An Albanian drug dealer who crashed into a bus, killing its 60-year-old driver and injuring 14 passengers, has been locked up for seven years and eight months.
Asylum seeker Dorjan Cera sped over a junction and struck a single-decker bus being driven by victim Kenneth Matcham shortly after 10pm on October 31 last year.
Mr Matcham was “ejected” from his vehicle after the impact caused it to crash into a second single-decker travelling in the opposite direction on Sevenoaks Road in Orpington, south-east London.
Cera, 20, had no insurance or licence at the time, and was driving a black Skoda Octavia he had hired using false documentation, the Old Bailey heard on Thursday.
Prosecutor Nathan Rasiah said the case involved an “appalling piece of driving”, which had “catastrophic consequences”.
He said: “The defendant drove his car at speed across a junction with a main road and collided with a bus.
“The impact of the collision forced the bus into the wrong lane, causing it to collide with another bus travelling in the opposite direction.
“Mr Kenneth Matcham, the driver of the first bus, was ejected from the vehicle as a result of the collision and died from his injuries, and a number of the passengers suffered serious injuries.”
Cera pleaded guilty in June to causing Mr Matcham’s death by dangerous driving.
He also admitted seven further counts of causing injury by dangerous driving, being unlicensed and uninsured, and possession of an identity document with improper intent.
Grandfather-of-seven Mr Matcham had been driving the R11 service which was carrying six passengers when his vehicle was hit.
CCTV footage of the incident showed Cera’s car failing to stop at the junction before smashing into the front nearside of the bus.
Mr Rasiah said Cera was travelling at a “constant speed” of between 41mph and 44mph along The Avenue as he approached the junction’s “give way” line before crashing.
Seven people suffered “serious” injuries, including passenger Paul Wassell, who broke his spine in “three or four places” when he was “ejected” from the bus, the court heard.
The impact caused the R11 service to hit another single-decker bus, which was running the 358 route, causing injuries to some of its passengers.
Cera, whose car also hit the second bus, was found in the driver’s seat, with the airbags deployed, by a firefighter.
After regaining consciousness, he “identified himself falsely” to police officers, Mr Rasiah said.
He tested positive for cocaine during a roadside drugs wipe test, but a subsequent blood test was negative, the court heard.
Cera was on licence at the time of the crash, having been sentenced to two years in detention in September 2018 for possession with intent to supply class A drugs, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and without insurance, and possession of false identity documents, the court was told.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Matcham’s daughter, Shelley Gardner, described her father as “the most amazing man you could have ever met”.
She said: “He was always my hero. I feel so privileged to have been part of his life.”
Paramjit Ahluwalia, mitigating, said Cera had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depressive episodes following the crash.
She said: “There is an evident level of remorse by this 20-year-old. He expressed ‘Every day I’m here in the prison, I am reminded of what I have done and I think about it every day.”
The court heard that Cera had arrived in the UK from Albania at the age of 15 and had his application for asylum rejected in February this year.
Sentencing Cera, of East Walk, Hillingdon, west London, Judge Wendy Joseph QC said: “I am entirely satisfied that driving at excessive speed towards the junction with a main road, on the wrong side of the carriageway and making no effort to slow, stop or make observations before entering the junction indicates a flagrant disregard for the rules of the road and an apparent disregard for the great danger being caused to others.”
Cera, who remained emotionless in the dock, was sentenced to seven years and eight months in detention and banned from holding a driving licence for 11 years and four months.
Acting detective inspector Richard Budd, from the Met’s roads and transport policing command, said Cera’s driving was “beyond reckless” and “extremely dangerous”.
Speaking after the sentencing, he said: “Our investigation, supported by eye witness accounts, established that Cera had been driving at speed, entering a busy road on the wrong side of the road when he collided with the bus being driven by Mr Matcham. He had made no attempt to slow down or give-way.
He added: “Today, he begins a prison sentence, having been left with no other option but to plead guilty.”