Ex-kids' TV presenter Paul Ballard jailed after killing two people in car crash while high on cocaine

12 August 2021, 13:24 | Updated: 12 August 2021, 13:43

Paul Ballard was jailed after killing two people in car crash while high on cocaine
Paul Ballard was jailed after killing two people in car crash while high on cocaine. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock
Radio X

By Radio X

Paul Ballard, who was one of the hosts of kids' TV show Diggit alongside Fearne Cotton, has been sentenced to nine years.

A former children's TV presenter has been jailed for nine years after killing two people while driving high on cocaine.

Paul 'Des' Ballad, 39, who was one of the hosts of GMTV kids' TV show Diggit, had been using cocaine and cannabis when he caused a pile-up of eight cars in February last year.

The ex-TV star, who worked alongside the likes of Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates, was driving with his son, who was 12 at the time, in the passenger seat of his VW Golf.

At a hearing in July this year, Ballad admitted to causing the deaths of Richard Trezise, 48, and Eileen Haskell, 64, by dangerous driving.

The Old Bailey heard today (11 August 2021) that Ballard had been driving within the 30mph limit until he suffered a seizure and accelerated up to 104mph in the seconds before the crash.

The victims were pronounced dead following the collision, which occurred on Squirrels Heath Road, Romford, Essex on February 20 2020 at approximately 2pm.

Ms Haskell was stationary in her car waiting at a traffic light, while Mr Tresize was waiting at a bus stop when he was struck by a car.

Paul Ballad hosted GMTV's Diggit alongside Fearne Cotton
Paul Ballad hosted GMTV's Diggit alongside Fearne Cotton. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

The court heard that there was "no evidence" to suggest the Class A drug had caused the crash or the seizure, but the former TV personality had not informed the DVLA or his GP about them.

The London Fire Brigade had to cut a number of people free from cars and six were taken to hospital with injuries, which were non-life threatening.

Ballard's medical records showed he had experienced three seizures prior to the collision: two in 2016 and one in 2019 and had admitted being addicted to cocaine.

Ballard, from Theydon Bois, Essex - who also appeared in Bottom and was part of The Disney Club - denied two further charges of causing death by driving while uninsured.

Judge Richard Marks QC said the accident could have been even worse, telling the court: "The fact that other individuals were not killed or seriously injured is entirely fortuitous".

Of the victims' relatives, he added: "Each of them is utterly devastated by the loss that they have sustained.

"It goes without saying that no sentence that I impose upon you will seem adequate to any of them or will seem capable of compensating them for their absolutely devastating loss."

Ballard's prison sentence will be followed by a disqualification from driving for 11 and a half years.

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