Two drivers who were racing each other at speed moments before causing the fatal road traffic collision which killed another motorist have been jailed at Leeds Crown Court.
Simon Hinchliffe, aged 53, from Kirkburton, was killed at the scene of the collision which happened on Huddersfield Road, Kirkburton, on 9 October 2020 when a Seat Ibiza being driven by Darren Rowe ran into the back of his Citroen van.
Moments earlier, Darren Rowe, who was found to be three times over the cannabis limit, and Jordan Watkiss, were seen speeding along nearby roads, with Rowe hitting speeds of up to 90mph where the limit was 40.
After the collision, Rowe fled the scene, leaving his five-year-old child alone in the car.
He returned some time later and was accompanied by a completely innocent vulnerable female who he tried to claim was behind the wheel when the collision took place.
Rowe had even rubbed some of his blood onto the woman to fake the appearance of injuries in a bid to convince police she was the driver.
The court was told Watkiss, who it is believed did not know Rowe, had been driving at between 70 and 75 mph seconds before the collision. Though his Skoda Fabia did not collide with Simon’s van or any other vehicle, it was determined that his actions in racing with Rowe were directly contributable to the collision.
A forensic investigation by West Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Enquiry Team, assisted by Roads Policing officers, proved that Rowe was the driver after his DNA was found on the steering wheel and airbag.
They also pieced together the journey the pair took and the speeds they were travelling at before the fatal collision with Simon’s white Citroen Berlingo van.
Appearing before Leeds Crown Court for sentencing today, Rowe, aged 36 of Alton Avenue, Dalton, Huddersfield, who admitted causing death by dangerous driving and attempting to pervert the course of justice, was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was also banned from driving for seven years and six months.
Watkiss, aged 22, of Ings Mill Drive, Clayton West, Huddersfield, who was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving after a trial by jury, was jailed for four years and six months. He was banned from driving for six years.
Both must sit extended re-tests.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Simon Marshall of West Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Enquiry Team said: “My thoughts remain with Simon’s family and although this sentence will not bring him back or make up for their devastating loss, I hope that it brings some small comfort to them.
“This was a wholly avoidable tragedy that came about due to the reckless and dangerous actions of these two men.
“Both of them were travelling at grossly excessive speeds with no regard for other road users.”
“Rowe compounded his actions by being under the influence of cannabis, being unlicensed and uninsured.
“He also tried to avoid responsibility for his actions by fleeing the scene before returning with someone he claimed was the driver.”