United Kingdom

Two boy racers who left 19 people injured after crashing into crowd of spectators are jailed

Two boy racers have been jailed for a total of nine years after a horrific crash at a street race that left 19 people injured.

Shocking footage from the unauthorised event captured the cars colliding then veering into crowds in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in July 2019.

It shows one of the motors plough into onlookers at the Roaring Meg Retail Park as spectators shout 'no' and 'stay back'.

The grim video then shows the aftermath of the crash with wounded people writhing in agony on the floor as locals rush to help. 

A Nissan 350z clipped a black Toyota GT86, sending both vehicles ploughing into huge crowds that had lined the roadside. 

Julian Castano-Perez, 21, from Dunmow, Essex, was driving at 70mph in the Nissan before ploughing into the Toyota being driven by Dominic Brown, also 21, from St Albans, who works in a Toyota dealership. 

The blue Nissan on the right hurtles along the A602 in Stevenage, clipping the slower-moving black vehicle on the left and sending them both crashing into spectators at a Thursday night car meet 

Police at the scene of the event the day after the crash, with the car park covered in skid marks left by cars performing 'donut stunts' last night before the crash

A diagram showing how the collision took place on the A602 in Hertfordshire as two cars ploughed into car meet spectators. The map also shows the 'circuit' drivers regularly perform in the road, as well as tyre marks left in the retail park (inset) by vehicles performing 'donut' stunts

The Nissan was sent flying across a central reservation while the Toyota went careering to its left by the impact, smashing into more spectators who were on the pavement and a grassy bank behind it. 

Witnesses said the Toyota had performed a 'reckless donut stunt' moments before the crash, and the driver had to be cut free from the vehicle by emergency services. 

After the July 2019 race cops launched a serious investigation and charged the drivers, with 19 offences.

Both admitted eight offences of serious injury by dangerous driving and 11 offences for wanton/furious driving prior to appearing at St Albans Crown Court on Friday.

Brown was slapped with a five-year prison term and was disqualified from driving for seven and a half years.

Castano-Perez was hit with a four-year sentence and given a seven-year-and-four-month driving ban.    

Julian Castano-Perez (left), 21, was driving at 70mph in the Nissan before ploughing into the Toyota being driven by Dominic Brown (right), also 21, from St Albans, who works in a Toyota dealership 

The 'meet' – part of a series organised by the Cruise Herts group that occurred on Thursday evenings in Stevenage - was described on Facebook as an 'extra special' one to raise money for families affected by stillbirth and miscarriage.

Locals said they had often complained about the gatherings, but police had failed to shut them down.

'It was an accident waiting to happen,' one resident said.  

Mr Castano, left, has previously shared pictures of the Nissan 350z, right, on social media, calling it the 'smiling make'

Witnesses claimed Mr Brown had spun the car with a donut stunt seconds before.

Its tyres could be heard screeching as it pulled out of the retail park and on to the road moments before Mr Castano's Toyota appeared.

A passenger in the Toyota, Mindaugas Dambrauskas, 26, said he was amazed that he and driver Mr Brown both emerged uninjured.

'It happened so quickly,' he said. 'We pulled out of the car park and the Nissan crashed straight into us and pushed us up on the kerb – we travelled for about 20 metres. We were knocking people over like bowling pins, it was horrific.' Mr Dambrauskas, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, said Mr Brown was 'frozen' with shock.

'I jumped out of the car and saw bodies covered in blood all over the place,' he said. 'A man shouted that we needed to lift the car up because someone was stuck underneath. We all lifted it up and he got free.' 

Spectators, many of them teenagers, rushed to help. Ambulances and an air ambulance arrived as Hertfordshire Police declared a major emergency. 

One resident, Claire Budge, said: 'They can't handle these cars properly as a lot of them are young new drivers.' 

The badly damaged blue Nissan was pictured being removed from the scene by the emergency services

The blue vehicle, believed to be a Nissan 350z, is seen with its chassis and windscreen damaged after the crash 

More than a dozen ambulances and police cars gathered at the scene after the collision

A police vehicle on the scene after the collision

Another, Lo Mac, added: 'It's just been pure luck that nothing like this has happened before.'

Victims included Robert Binns, who posted a photo of himself in a neck brace. He said: 'I was flipped up in the air by the GT86 and landed on my head. Have whiplash, concussion, cuts and bruises. So I'm very lucky.'

Films drove a surge in deadly craze 

Loud music and burning rubber have been attracting scores of ‘boy racers’ to meetings across the UK for decades.

But there was a surge of interest in car cruise gatherings following the global success of The Fast and the Furious, a 2001 street racing film, which was followed by a string of sequels.

The 2013 car crash death of Paul Walker, one the film franchise’s stars, did nothing to diminish the craze.

Organised events are static, agreed by police and regulated by council officers.

However, the authorities have little control over spontaneous meets which gain traction on social media, spilling out of car parks and industrial estates and on to the roads.

In 2014 a judge banned car cruise events in the West Midlands after boy racers caused 31 accidents and four deaths, along the Black Country Route linking Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Standwell.

In March, a boy of ten and his 23-month-old brother were killed when their family’s BMW was struck by a Audi S3 street racing in Wolverhampton. 

Witness Ciaran O'Connor, 33, was on his way home when he saw the crash. 'The car veered off into the crowd,' he said . 'The kids that were standing there had one second to react and they went flying.' Event organiser Rix Sidhu, 29, said he saw the Toyota 'recklessly do a donut manoeuvre'.

He said: 'It pulled out of the car park on to the main road and then it was hit by the Nissan, which was coming at speed.' He insisted the event was for 'car enthusiasts, not boy racers' but confirmed no more would be held.

Hertfordshire Police yesterday admitted no arrests had been made. Chief Inspector Alicia Shaw said an internal investigation would look at why officers failed to be aware of the meet. 

Nurse Kimberly Chowdhary was one of the people in the crowd by the side of the road and spoke of the horrific scene unfolding.

She told the BBC: 'We were just sitting on the side of the verge and a car was pulling out and another car came up really fast from the other side of the road.

'I'm not really sure why people were standing [in the central reservation] because the speed these cars were coming at means it's just not safe. I think it's more the thrill of it and being able to get good video and pictures.'

She added she went into 'nurse mode' when she saw the stricken victims and did what she could to help.

Miss Chowdhary added she had been to similar events previously but last night's was the most dangerous she had ever seen.

She said: 'Usually on that specific road you get people speeding up and down it, but yesterday it was starting to get a little bit out of hand as everyone was excited.'

At least 14 of those hurt were hospitalised. 

In the wake of the sentencing Detective Sergeant James Thorne , who led the Hertfordshire Constabulary probe, said: 'This kind of irresponsible behaviour always puts lives at risk and it was incredible that no one was killed as a result of the events of that night.

Pictures show the black car had its roof completely ripped off. It was also seen being taken away from the scene this morning

'I hope this sentence sends a clear message to those that think it is acceptable to drive at speed/race and show off their motor vehicles in this way, the consequences of such irresponsible behaviour and that we will pursue the severest penalty.'

Chief Inspector for Stevenage Simon Tabert added officials were working to stop another race.

He said: 'Much work has been done in conjunction with Stevenage Borough Council to make sure this horrific event will never be repeated.

'The council now has an injunction in place that will provide police with powers to prevent the kind of activity that caused the accident and we are working with them to enforce this legislation.'

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