A driver who killed a mother-of-two after sniffing butane has been given a six-year jail sentence.

Tributes at the scene of the crash at Little America near Bideford, caused by the dangerous driving of Paul Snowdon. Picture: Matt SmartTributes at the scene of the crash at Little America near Bideford, caused by the dangerous driving of Paul Snowdon. Picture: Matt Smart

Paul Snowdon inhaled the butane gas from a canister as he overtook cars on blind bends at speeds of up to 90mph on the road between Torrington and Bideford.

Torrington mum Kelly Gliddon, aged 41, was a back-seat passenger in his Vauxhall Astra and died of chest injuries after the car crashed as he was overtaking a van near Little America.

She and her partner Robert Harding got into his car in Torrington expecting a short lift to a local supermarket but instead Snowdon took off at reckless speeds towards Bideford on the A386.

He changed his route after having a confrontation with a man in Torrington who boarded a bus to Bideford. Snowdon gave chase and had just overtaken the bus when he crashed.

Kelly Gliddon, who was killed in the crash near Bideford.Kelly Gliddon, who was killed in the crash near Bideford.

Kelly and Mr Harding pleaded for him to slow down but he ignored them and became increasingly reckless in the moments before the accident.

He hit a BMW car head on, causing serious injuries to another driver and her 89-year-old mother who she was taking to a dental appointment.

They had no chance of avoiding Snowdon’s car as he pulled out to overtake a Citroen van on a two-lane stretch of road. The force of the collision caused the Astra to hit the van, overturn, and spin off the road on its roof.

Snowdon tried to talk his way out of trouble by claiming that Mr Harding was the driver but had to admit the truth when police found his DNA on the driver’s airbag.

Paul Snowdon.Paul Snowdon.

Mr Harding saw him sniffing butane during the five-mile journey, during which he had at least one near miss and overtook other vehicles, including the bus, by crossing double yellow lines.

The crash devastated Kelly’s family and left her two sons Charlie, aged 15, and Shay, nine, without a mother. Charlie wrote a victim impact statement saying they were dreading the thought of a second Christmas without her.

Kelly’s mother Diane Pratley said the family had been given a life sentence of grief and suffering.

Unemployed factory worker Snowdon, aged 38, of Whites Lane, Torrington, admitted causing death by dangerous driving and serious injury by dangerous driving and was jailed for six years and eight months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.

Tributes at the scene of the crash at Little America near Bideford. Picture: Matt SmartTributes at the scene of the crash at Little America near Bideford. Picture: Matt Smart

He told him: “Nothing this court can do can compensate for the loss of life and suffering and loss caused by you that afternoon. The condolences of the court go out to all those who knew and loved her.

“You were driving aggressively and overtaking in a dangerous manner. For five miles or so you kept taking chances by overtaking when it was dangerous to do so. You were described as driving up to 90mph and inhaling butane.

“You became hyper and were asked to slow down but drove with stupid and reckless disregard for the safety of your passengers and anyone else on the A386.

“As you approached a left hand bend, you overtook one more fateful time. The effect was catastrophic.

“In your first interview you tried to blame Mr Harding. This was a cowardly attempt to avoid responsibility for your own actions. You caused physical, emotional and psychological loss which will last for a long time.

“This was the most serious form of causing death by dangerous driving.”

Kelly’s family and friends were in the public gallery to hear the case and her mother sobbed as the details of the crash were revealed.

Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said the accident happened at 2.45pm on May 9 last year on the stretch of road between Torrington and Bideford.

Kelly and Mr Harding had got in to Snowdon’s car expecting to head in the other direction but he set off after a bus after a confrontation at a bus stop.

Other drivers said they were shocked by the way he overtook them on bends of blind hilltops and CCTV on the bus showed him passing on a stretch of double yellow lines.

He denied sniffing butane but Mr Harding saw him inhaling it during the trip and the empty canister was found in the wreckage of the car.

Kelly died from chest injuries, while the other driver and her mother suffered injuries including broken collar bones, wrist, and massive bruising. The mother was on oxygen for almost a week in hospital.

Mrs Pratley’s statement on behalf of the family said news of her death had been devastating and they felt they were serving a life sentence.

Kelly’s older son Charlie said: “My brother’s and my world have fallen apart since Mum died. We only have memories and photos. My brother breaks down in tears all the time.

“I find myself getting angry at the man who killed Mum and there is nothing I can do about it. There are weeks when I don’t sleep or have flashbacks and dream about her.

“It is distressing and I am dreading Christmas because it was Mum’s favourite time of year.”

Mr Ticehurst said Snowdon had two previous drink driving convictions.

Richard Crabb, defending, said Snowdon denies sniffing butane but has no memory of the day of the crash. He is truly remorseful and wishes he could turn the clock back. He has not driven since.

He had worked in a factory in the past but was suffering from anxiety and depression and living on benefits at the time of the accident.