Learner driver killed elderly couple after driving mum's car while high on drugs

·3 min read
Learner driver
Kristiyan Trendafilov, left, killed Shirley and Alan Reygate in a crash. (JustGiving/SWNS)

A learner driver killed an elderly couple in a head-on crash when he drove his mother’s car after drinking whisky and consuming cannabis.

Kristiyan Trendafilov, 29, ploughed his Toyota into Shirley and Alan Reygate's Fiat 500 on the A228 near Colts Hill in Kent.

Trendafilov, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was jailed for five years and two months after admitting to causing the two deaths by dangerous driving at Maidstone Crown Court.

He changed his pleas to guilty just minutes before his trial was due to begin.

Trendafilov drove after drinking whisky and consuming cannabis. (SWNS)
Trendafilov drove after drinking whisky and consuming cannabis. (SWNS)

Trendafilov was approaching a bend when he lost control and veered into the wrong lane before hitting the couple, both in their 80s, shortly after 11pm on 7 October 2018.

Their Fiat 500 was discovered buried in a hedge by passersby Miranda Cook and her friend Georgia Crutcher, who stopped to help after spotting debris in the middle of the road.

Ms Cook stayed to comfort Mr and Ms Reygate until emergency services arrived as they were struggling to breathe and waved down approaching drivers.

The Reygates were taken to hospital, but Mrs Reygate, 83, died four days later and her husband, 82, three months afterwards – having never fully recovered from his injuries.

Mr and Mrs Reygate, who were weeks away from celebrating their 60th anniversary, were on their way home from their granddaughter’s birthday party when the fatal crash happened.

Trendafilov, who only suffered minor injuries in the smash, was arrested at the scene after initially failing a breath test.

Further tests revealed he had been just under the alcohol limit but was over the drug limit.

He had driven his mother’s car despite never having taken a driving test.

In a statement read out during the trial, Mr and Mrs Reygate's daughter, Lisa Cole, said: “My parents were extremely kind and generous.

“They did what they could to help me throughout my life.”

General view of Maidstone Crown Court.
He was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court. (PA)

Paul Valder, prosecuting, said: "For no obvious reason the defendant lost control on the bend and veered into the wrong lane and collided with Mr and Mrs Reygate's vehicle."

Mr Valder also praised Ms Cook and her friend for coming to the couple’s aid.

He said they “effectively took control of the situation until the emergency services arrived, dealing with casualties, did what they could to comfort them and flagged down approaching motorists.”

Mr Valder then pointed out that despite being under the alcohol limit, the combination "may very well" impaired Trendafilov's ability to drive safely.

Trendafilov said he felt like a “cold-blooded killer” during the trial, adding “I plead for forgiveness from the family, but I myself have not forgiven myself”.

Judge Julian Smith said: "This sentence can never compensate for nor reflect the loss and, quite frankly, nothing could."

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