‘Cowardly’ driver killed dad-to-be in 128mph M6 crash then ran away

A man who ran away after causing a 128mph crash on the M6 in Warrington that killed a dad-to-be has been jailed. John Yates, 28, was sentenced during a hearing at Chester Crown Court on Friday (January 20).

The court heard that the North Wales man was driving on the northbound side of the motorway at around 12.30am on November 15, between junction 20 for Lymm and 21 for Thelwall, when the incident happened.

Temporary roadworks were in place and all drivers were signalled to merge into lane four of the carriageway. There was also an advisory speed limit of 50mph in place.

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But Yates continued to travel at high speed, later found to be 128mph, and undertook a number of vehicles to try and skip the traffic. When he approached the area where traffic was merging into lane four, his Volkswagen Scirocco crashed into the side of a Peugeot 307 before hitting the back of a black Peugeot 107.

He was then got out of his car and ran away from the scene. Emergency services were called and St Helens man Christopher Smith, who was driving the Peugeot 107, was taken to Salford Royal Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police carried out a search for Yates who was found and arrested at around 5.30am, after he had returned to the motorway. Mr Smith, 41, died from his injuries the next day (November 16).

Yates, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen. At Friday’s court hearing he was sentenced to eight years and three months in prison and banned from driving for seven years, which will commence when he’s released.

Following the sentencing, Sergeant Simon Degg, of Cheshire Police’s Serious and Complex Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Yates cowardly left the scene. Rather than staying to try to help Christopher and face the consequences of his actions, he ran off and left him to die.

“Even after he was located, he denied any involvement in the collision, and throughout questioning he declined to answer any questions and refused to provide samples of breath or blood. His parting comments to investigators was that he puts all of his trust in those investigating the collision.

“That investigation showed that Yates was travelling at 128mph when he collided unnecessarily with the rear of Christophers car.

“Christopher was a true gentleman, he had left work early that day so that he could spend time with his heavily pregnant wife. He was excited at the prospect of becoming a dad and a gentleman who was doing nothing wrong whatsoever.

“While Yates pleaded guilty, he had shown no remorse for his actions and he deserves to be behind bars for a substantial amount of time.

“Because of the actions taken by Yates that day, Christopher will never get to meet his child and be the loving father that he would have been.

“While no court result could ever make up for the loss or the pain that his family have endured, but I hope that the conclusion of this case will provide some closure. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.”

Following the incident, Mr Smith’s family released a tribute, describing him as a ‘loving son, brother and uncle’ who was ‘devoted’ to his partner Mandy. They said he was ‘extremely excited’ about becoming a father.

They added: “Christopher was very close to his family, and nothing was ever too much trouble for him in regard to his friends. He loved to spend time with Mandy and working to provide for her, and also enjoyed watching and playing football.

“Christopher will always be remembered for his great sense of humour. Following his death Christopher has donated his organs so that others can live on.”

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