Career thief who killed friend in crashed jailed – for just four years

November 2, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

A career car thief who stole his first vehicle aged ELEVEN and has 73 convictions was jailed for just four years after killing his friend in a crash – while on license for mowing down another victim.

Career thief who killed friend in crashed jailed - for just four years

Billy-Joe Madden, 20, (pictured above) lost control of a stolen Volkswagen Polo and crashed into parked cars at 60mph in a residential street in Bristol on August 30 last year.

Callous Madden fled the scene leaving tragic passenger Aaron Fletcher, 20, trapped in the wreckage with a fractured pelvis and punctured lungs.

Bar worker Aaron was cut from the car by fire fighters and spent eight weeks in intensive care but died three months after the crash – just 16 days after his 20th birthday.

Madden had only been out on license for one month after a two-and-a-half year sentence for mowing down and crippling Matthew Chamberlain, 21, when he drove Aaron to his death.

He has amassed 25 convictions for 73 offences ranging from burglary and arson to assault – and has crashed a stolen car or driven one dangerously seven times.

Madden will serve just two of the four years he was sentenced to by Judge Michael Longman at Bristol Crown Court on Monday – and will then be on license for four years.

Aaron’s devastated father Eric Gale slammed the sentence and said the family – Aaron’s mother Lesley, 44, and brothers Daniel and Billy, 19 – planned to appeal the judge’s decision.

Heartbroken Eric, 54, said: ”There was never going to be any real justice. It will always be a life sentence for us as a family, and we will be the ones to suffer.”

Career thief who killed friend in crashed jailed - for just four years

Aaron’s brother Daniel, 22, added: ”It is not the judge’s fault, but the system. We have got a result, but we feel it is too lenient.

”Two years isn’t enough for someone’s life. As a family we just feel powerless.”

In April 2008, Madden stole a Peugeot 107 from outside a home in Clifton, Bristol and sped through the city at 60mph with a 16-year-old accomplice before mowing down Matthew Chamberlain, 21.

Matthew – one of Aaron’s best friends – was left in a coma after suffering a fractured skull and two shattered thigh bones and has been left with brain injuries.

Madden was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in custody – and was on license from the sentence when he picked up Aaron and drove him to his death.

James Ward, prosecuting at Bristol Crown Court, said Aaron had been drinking with a friend when his girlfriend Gemma Watkins called to ask him over and arranged for Madden to pick him up.

Madden, of no fixed address, arrived in a grey Volkswagen Polo with false number plates which had been stolen the day before from Clifton.

Witnesses saw him driving at twice the city road’s 30mph limit before he lost control near a pedestrian crossing.

The Polo spun and slammed into a parked Nissan Micra – crushing Aaron and causing him severe lung damage – and smashed into two more cars before finally coming to a halt.

In a statement, witness Julie Poulston said she saw Madden get out of the driver;s side and briefly try to pull someone from the passenger side.

She said: ”He couldn’t get the door open, so he screamed at me to call for an ambulance and ran off.”

At 1am, Madden turned up at Aaron’s girlfriend Gemma’s house with blood and scratches on his head and said he had crashed the car and could not ”wake up” Aaron.

Career thief who killed friend in crashed jailed - for just four years

Aaron’s father Eric Gale and brother Daniel Fletcher

He was arrested by officers on September 1 as he tried to climb out of Gemma’s window.

James Ward added: ”His history speaks for itself. This defendant is a danger and should be imprisoned for public protection.”

Defending, Ed Burgess told the court that Madden would be ”haunted and tortured” by his conscience for what he had done and, at 20, had time to change his ways.

Madden pleaded guilty to theft, causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop or report an accident and using a vehicle while disqualified and without insurance.

Judge Longman told Madden: ”Time after time you have failed to learn the lessons from what you have done and the sentences we have passed.”

Madden was also disqualified from driving for five years.

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