A drunken van driver who killed the rapper Cadet in a nightmare collision has been jailed for four years and eight months.
Jordon Birch, 23, was handed the prison sentence today at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, having pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving last month.
He is banned from the roads for two years and must take an extended test before he can get his licence back.
Birch had been behind the wheel of his Vauxhall Combo van in the early hours of February 9 2019 when he smashed into a Toyota Prius taxi carrying the 28-year-old grime star in its back seat.
Cadet, real name Blaine Cameron Johnson, was on his way to perform at Keele University when he was killed in the crash, and despite the efforts of emergency services was pronounced dead at the scene.
He sustained a “catastrophic and significant head trauma” in the smash and was not wearing a seatbelt at the time.
The taxi driver, Kashif Usman, was also seriously injured in the collision, spending three weeks in hospital, and is yet to return to work.
Birch – who broke his leg and punctured his lungs – Mr Usman and three other passengers in the taxi were treated in hospital afterwards, having sustained injuries in the crash.
The court today heard how Birch had downed six pints before getting behind the wheel that fateful night.
He admitted feeling “slightly drunk” but still decided to drive, reaching speeds of up to 69mph and getting caught on CCTV on the wrong side of the road for a few hundred metres before the crash.
A blood test taken from Birch six hours after the crash gave a reading of 87 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – against the legal limit of 80, StokeLive reports.
As Birch’s van came round the bend, he was still in the wrong lane as he smashed into the taxi.
Birch had to be cut free from the wreckage of his van in a two-hour rescue operation, and his breathalyser test gave a reading of 39 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – against the limit of 35.
Prosecutor Paul Spratt told the court: “The defendant drove at twice the speed limit on the wrong side of the road after consuming six pints and was in excess of the legal limit.
“It is clear he was speeding. It is clear there was evidence of alcohol.”
He also praised the rapper, adding: “Blaine was a very talented musician and singer. He was on the cusp of securing greater commercial success.”
In mitigation, defence lawyer Peter Cooper said Birch is full of remorse.
Judge David Fletcher accepted the defendant is genuinely remorseful.
“He was unconscious and has no recollection of the incident. He has a clean driving record,” said Mr Cooper.
“He suffered a serious and complex fracture of his right thigh, punctured lungs, a head injury which required stitches and fractured ribs.”
Judge Fletcher accepted that Birch is not prone to drink-driving regularly, and said he had “behaved with dignity knowing there is only one outcome”.
“The consequences were catastrophic and the consequences have to be faced by you,” he told Birch in the dock.
During a previous hearing, Mr Spratt said: “Three other people in the Toyota Prius all sustained injuries. Those injuries will form part of the narrative of the case.
“The issue of alcohol is to the fore in the case and will form part of the narrative.”
Defending Birch, Mr Cooper had said: “He is appalled and he offers his full apology. Not that it changes anything, but he offers a full apology to members of the bereaved family.
“He is not hoping to gain by it. He just wants to say it. He does not recall the accident.”
Mr Cooper had added: “He is under no illusions – he is going to serve a long prison sentence.”
Cadet was known best for his most recent single Advice, a collaboration with Deno Driz.
It peaked at number 27 in the UK chart with 31million views on YouTube after its release in October 2018.
He grew up alongside fellow rappers Konan, Krept, and Redz as part of the notorious Gipset gang.
Cadet’s heartbroken family had confirmed the shocking news of his death on his Instagram .
In a statement, they said: “We the family of Blaine Cameron Johnson known as Cadet (Underrated Legend) would like to share the sad news that during the early hours of 9th February 2019 he passed away as a passenger in a taxi, en route to a performance.
“Right now we the family appreciate your patience and will share with you any information as and when we can. Thanks for your support in advance. Love The Johnson Family #cadetcadet #imbuff #underratedlegend #ripcadet.”
His cousin Krept led the tributes online saying: “My life will never be the same again. I love you and will forever miss you. I can’t believe it. I am heartbroken.”
Krept helped organise a memorial in Hyde Park in February, inviting fans to join the family in remembering the talented grime star.
Cadet’s mum made an emotional speech there, saying: “I need you men to express yourselves, express your feelings. If it’s not to your mothers, to somebody, don’t hold it up, don’t keep pent up anger inside you, it’s not good.
“Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of you. Don’t waste it being in anger.”
Cadet was due to perform at Wireless festival in London last summer. Wireless kept his performance slot on the bill “as a time to reflect on the memory of Blaine”.
Since his death, the rapper’s friends family have set up the Cadet Trust in his name, to help youth projects within Lambeth and South London receive vital funding and support.