Driver jailed for Queensbury death crash

The aftermath of the road traffic collision in Priestley Hill, Queensbury.
The aftermath of the road traffic collision in Priestley Hill, Queensbury.

A teenage driver who caused the death of his friend and seriously injured a young woman and a cabbie when his speeding car smashed into a private hire vehicle in Queensbury has been locked up for 30 months.

Zachary Willemse was just 18 and had only passed his test five months before the Mini he was driving spun out of control and crashed into a Toyota Hiace on Priestley Hill in April 2014.

The early hours collision caused fatal injuries to the 18-year-old’s friend Kallum McCarter and his rear seat passenger, 17-year-old Bradford woman Natasha Hoy, suffered life-changing head injuries.

Bradford Crown Court heard today that cabbie Matloob Hussain and his two male passengers were also injured in the collision which happened on a stretch of the A647 described as “challenging” even for an experienced driver.

The road had a 30mph speed limit and prosecutor Stephen Wood told the court that on the approach to the crash scene there were two warning signs about the bends ahead and the word “slow” painted on the surface.

Although it was not possible for accident investigators to give a precise speed for the Mini at the time of the collision Mr Wood said CCTV footage captured the vehicle driving at between 50 and 55mph about 350 metres before the right-hand bend.

Willemse, now 19, of Gibb Lane, Halifax, was initially charged with causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving, but last month his guilty pleas to causing death by careless driving and two offences of inflicting grievous bodily harm were accepted by the prosecution.

Today, grieving Bradford mum Justine Hutchinson stepped into the witness box to read an eloquent and moving victim impact statement which detailed how the death of her 20-year-old son had destroyed the family.

About a month after he suffered a catalogue of serious injuries in the crash Kallum’s family took the heart-breaking decision to withdraw life-sustaining treatment and he died in hospital in May 2014.

His mum described Kallum as “truly special” and revealed how her charismatic, caring and cheeky son had helped her recover from a brain haemorrhage suffered two years ago.

Ms Hutchinson said Kallum had saved her life by putting her in the recovery position and calling the paramedics.

She said Kallum had promised to dance with her on his 21st birthday, but instead the family had to mark that day by releasing balloons over his grave.

Ms Hutchinson said Kallum’s father was “broken” and no longer the man she knew and her parents were carrying a pain that was far stronger than them.

She said Kallum’s younger brother and her sister had also badly affected by Kallum’s death and the image of him in hospital was etched on her soul forever.

“Over a year on and nothing has changed,” she said.

“How could it. My son isn’t here. It’s a pain that deepens with every passing day.

She said her sporty son had received offers from universities to pursue a career in sports teaching and she revealed that a Kallum McCarter award had now been created at his college in Bradford.

“I was, and am, so proud of Kallum,” she said.

“I was, and am, so honoured to have been his mum and I am so very lost without him.

“For my family and me he was our world. This is literally killing me.”

Mr Wood also read from the victim impact statement of Natasha Hoy’s father David who described how the traumatic head injuries had affected his now 18-year-old daughter.

Mr Hoy said he wanted to swap places with his daughter when he and his wife arrived at the hospital after the crash.

“No parent should have to go through what we went through that morning,” he said.

Mr Hoy said they were grateful that she was recovering, but she now had to see a range of therapists and professionals to help rebuild her life.

He said she was now unable to go to university or go on holidays with her friends and added: ”Her family have no longer got the daughter or sister they once had.”

Mr Hussain suffered fractured ribs and chest injuries in the crash and in his statement he described how he was now unable to pick up his grandchildren because of the pain and suffered flashbacks.

“I feel I am unable to be a good father and grandfather,” he said.

One of Mr Hussain’s passengers Barry Turner had been off work for eight months and had to see a therapist because of post traumatic stress disorder following the crash.

Willemse’s barrister Peter Horgan said his client, who was also injured in the collision, was “crippled” with remorse over the crash.

Mr Horgan said the teenager was a decent, hard-working young man who would have to live with the knowledge that his driving caused the death of a close friend and caused serious injuries to others.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said the tragedy had resulted yet again from that most lethal combination of young men and motor cars.

“The tentacles from this desperate situation extend and have destroyed the lives of so many and they’ll never recover,” he told Willemse.

The judge noted that the maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving was five years and he highlighted the various mitigating and aggravating factors he had to consider in assessing the appropriate sentence.

“You weren’t intoxicated, it wasn’t prolonged, you don’t have previous convictions,” he told Willemse.

“Whatever speed you were going you were going too fast for the circumstances.”

Willemse, who will serve his 30-month sentence in a young offenders institution, was also banned him from driving for four years and ordered to take an extended test at the end of the disqualification.