A judge has locked up two men after their race along a West Yorkshire road ended with the life of a young mum-of-two being “needlessly swept away”.
Front seat passenger Emily Phillips, 25, died at the scene from multiple injuries after speeding driver Paul Hemmingway, then only 19, lost control of his newly-purchased £5,000 Seat Leon FR and skidded into the family car being driven by her partner Paul Smith.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Ms Phillips’ two young children, aged seven and four, were also in the rear of the Vauxhall Astra at the time of the crash which happened on a Sunday afternoon close to their home in Boothtown.
Hemmingway, now 20, and formerly of Northside Terrace, Bradford, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in a young offenders institution after Judge David Hatton QC heard he had been racing along the A647 Boothtown Road with uninsured and unlicensed Mark Collins who was behind the wheel of a Mercedes CLK Coupe which he had bought that morning for just £500.
Hemmingway, who has been living at Mill Lane, Leeds, and Collins, 26, of Hillcrest Road, Queensbury, both pleaded guilty to causing Ms Phillips’ death by dangerous driving.
Collins, who also admitted an unrelated offence of burglary at a Co-op store in Huddersfield, was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the driving offence with an extra year behind bars for the break-in.
In his victim impact statement Mr Smith said the crash had ended his nine-year relationship with Ms Phillips and the family’s life would never be the same.
“My family has been blown apart by this,” he stated.
Family members sat in the jury box as prosecutor Jonathan Sharp outlined details of the statements given by other concerned motorists who had seen the two cars overtaking each other dangerously on the winding road in icy and snowy conditions.
In the hours before the crash the Mercedes had been spotted doing handbrake turns and wheel spins in the Thornton and Queensbury area, but Collins denied being behind the wheel at that time.
At around 3.30pm on January 13 Hemmingway and Collins, who each had passengers in their vehicles, came across each other near Boothtown Road and Mr Sharp said they began to race along the two-and-a-quarter mile route to the crash scene.
Other motorists who later gave statements to the police described the drivers as idiots and several of them predicted that someone would be killed.
The concerned drivers estimated that the pair were reaching speeds of more than double the 30mph on the road and it was later calculated that Hemmingway had been travelling at 67mph when his Leon crashed into the Vauxhall which was legitimately driving across the road at the junction with Chester Road.
Hemmingway remained at the scene following the crash and was later arrested while Collins drove away from the area but handed himself in to the police the next day.
Barrister Oliver Jarvis, for Hemmingway, submitted that he had changed from an immature and criminal 19-year-old into someone who had recognised that he was responsible for the death of another person.
Collins’ lawyer Philip Ainge said he could not explain why he had decided to follow the Seat Leon that afternoon and it was a day and a decision which he had played and replayed again and again in his mind.
Jailing the pair Judge Hatton told Hemmingway that he had deliberately engaged in a “grotesque” course of driving over a considerable distance in built-up areas and achieving alarming speeds.
“You engaged in overtaking manoeuvres necessitating several motorists to take evasive action,” said the judge.
“You tailgated and alarmed motorists who you regarded as impediments to your wantonly dangerous progress.
“The lives and safety of a significant number of people were put at grave risk.
“The fact that so many members of the public came forward to provide statements is testimony to the shocking nature of your driving.
“The Vauxhall Astra vehicle contained the driver’s partner and their two young children.
“The lady suffered multiple injuries and a young life was needlessly swept away instantly by reason of your conduct and those young children were rendered motherless.
“The effect upon the family is immense, indeed immeasurable.”
The judge told Collins he had also engaged in a deliberate course of racing at high speeds and had been testing the limits of car he had bought that day.
“You were fully aware of the dangers present and like Paul Hemmingway chose to ignore them,” added the judge.
Both men were banned from driving for 10 years and they must each take an extended test before lawfully driving again.