Shane Andrew Loughlin, 32, of Rumney, Cardiff, has been sentenced to 17 months in jail for filming himself driving dangerously at speeds of up to 90mph while inhaling from balloons just hours before a crash that claimed the lives of three people.
Loughlin previously admitted to driving a Volkswagen Tiguan dangerously on the M4 and driving the vehicle while disqualified, unrelated to the crash that occurred later.
The fatal collision, which resulted in the deaths of driver Rafel Jeanne, 24, and passengers Darcy Ross and Eve Smith, both 21, occurred in the St Mellons area of Cardiff at 2.03 am on March 4. Loughlin was a rear seat passenger at the time of the crash and suffered serious injuries.
Video footage presented in Cardiff Crown Court showed Loughlin inhaling from balloons as he drove the Tiguan at high speeds on the M4, at times with neither hand on the wheel.
Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke, Recorder of Cardiff, remarked that it was sheer luck that Loughlin had not injured or killed anyone that night.
Loughlin was disqualified from driving at the time and had a history of criminal convictions, including driving offenses. In addition to the jail sentence, he was disqualified from driving for two years and eight months, with a requirement to pass an extended driving test to regain his license.
Police officers investigating the fatal crash discovered video evidence on Loughlin’s iPhone, depicting him driving dangerously while inhaling nitrous oxide from a balloon.
Loughlin initially claimed he could not recall driving and had not inhaled nitrous oxide, but he later admitted to dangerous driving and driving while disqualified in Cardiff Magistrates’ Court.
Loughlin’s defense attorney, Andrew Taylor, emphasized that Loughlin should not be held responsible for the fatal collision, as he was not the driver at the time. Taylor also mentioned that partying and driving should never be mixed, highlighting the severe consequences.
Loughlin and another passenger, Sophie Russon, 20, were left waiting for help for nearly 48 hours following the crash, both having sustained serious injuries.
Loughlin suffered facial fractures, leg fractures, a ruptured aorta, and a fractured elbow, with his heart function significantly affected. He is likely to require heart surgery in the future.
The fatal collision remains under investigation, with further tests being conducted as part of the inquest into the deaths of the victims.