THE widower of a much-loved Chester woman killed by a dangerous driver has called for suspected drug-driver cases to be sped up – as they could save someone's life.

Paul Wright, 31, of Westenra Avenue, Ellesmere Port, was last week sentenced to nine years in prison for causing the death of 57-year-old Upton resident Jane Hickson by dangerous driving, in a collision which happened near the Countess of Chester Hospital in November 5, 2023.

He silently sobbed throughout his sentencing hearing at the same court on Thursday, January 25, as Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett told him the prolonged bout of "selfish and self-entitled" driving on "a wet and greasy" Liverpool Road had "devastating consequences for so many people".

While Wright was not over the drug-drive limit at the time of the collision, he failed a drug fitness test in custody, having taken cannabis the day before. Judge Everett ruled police could have charged him with driving a vehicle while unfit to do so through drugs.

Chester and District Standard: Paul Wright.Paul Wright.

In addition, Wright had been caught drug-driving with cocaine in his blood on May 29, 2023. He was sentenced to a driving ban at Chester Magistrates Court on November 7, when first appearing for the death by dangerous driving charge.

In a moving personal statement, John Hickson described feeling "numb" at the loss of his "wife, best friend and partner".

He added he requested that the Home Office reduce the time taken for drug-drive tests to be carried out.

Currently, police forces have up to six months to charge suspects with summary offences such as drug-driving, from the day the offence was allegedly committed. Drug-drive allegations can take up to the full six months as it takes time for a blood sample taken by the suspect to be analysed.

Had Wright been charged earlier, he would have been before the magistrates court and – if he had pleaded guilty – would have received a minimum 12-month driving ban.

Mr Hickson said: "A reduction in this time may have helped prevent Jane's death. It might save someone's life."

Judge Everett said: "Mr Hickson makes a profoundly valid point.

"There really ought to be some form of protocol, where if a blood sample is taken for drug-driving, or drink-driving, they need to prepare the result of that blood test in a much more limited time.

"If somebody is driving impaired, then inevitably they are going to lose their licence – and the sooner, the better.

"I know that, after November 5, the sample was fast-tracked, which suggests to me for five-and-a-half months the sample had been somewhere waiting for analysis.

"I don't have any power to direct anything, that is outside my remit. If I was a coroner I would be reporting this to whoever I need to report."