Drunk driver in 'unsafe' van jailed after crashing car and killing passenger

Joseph Keane
Joseph Keane

An "extremely drunk" driver who crushed a car and killed its passenger after driving a 7.5-tonne van in an "utterly dreadful, appalling and highly dangerous" way over 28 miles has been jailed for nine years.

Adam Kershaw, 29, was nearly three times over the limit when he lost control of the box van and "effectively drove over" the Peugeot 107 on the A65 near Ingleton in North Yorkshire.

It left passenger Joseph Keane, from Billinge, with fatal head injuries on his 28th birthday.

Kershaw had been seen swerving across the road into the path of oncoming vehicles, hitting a stone bridge and narrowly avoiding a collision with a coach containing 60 schoolchildren during his journey.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at a previous hearing and was sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on Tuesday.

Sentencing Kershaw, Judge Jonathan Rose told him: "I find this case to be the worst case of dangerous driving it has been my misfortune to come across.

"Over a distance of at least 28 miles your driving was utterly dreadful, appalling and highly dangerous to every other road user who had the misfortune to be on the same road as you.

"You were drunk. You were incapable of controlling this very large, very heavy vehicle.

"You had no reason to be driving as you did. It was all done because you were in drink."

Kershaw was travelling from his home in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, to the Beat-Herder Festival in Sawley, Lancashire, on July 1,3 2018 after spending the previous night drinking and taking ketamine with friends.

He did not have a licence to drive the van, which he had crudely converted into an "unsafe" camper van with no restraints for the driver or rear passengers, and his insurance was not valid.

Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, told the court that a number of other road users called 999 to report Kershaw's driving.

He said: "The observed manner of his driving was consistent with him being highly intoxicated throughout and a back calculation confirmed that he was extremely drunk."

Mr Sharp said the collision with the bridge left a door to the rear of the van hanging open.

But Kerhaw ignored his passengers' panic and pleas to stop and "didn't seem to care".

At the scene of the fatal collision, Kershaw approached the Peugeot, driven by Mr Keane's girlfriend Alyssa Henderson, out of control and on the wrong side of the road.

Mr Sharp said the van tipped onto two wheels after the defendant took a corner at a speed of up to 55mph, before its full weight dropped on to the car, crushing it and effectively driving over it.

Judge Rose said: "You drove over that car, you crushed it and, in so doing, you killed Joseph Keane."

The court heard that Kershaw did nothing to help at the scene and did not speak to Miss Henderson, who was "covered in blood and hysterical with grief".

But Imran Khan, mitigating for father-of-two Kershaw, said the defendant was "disgusted" about what he had done and had stopped both driving and drinking since the collision.

He read a letter from Kershaw, expressing his "deepest apologies" to the family.

Mr Sharp read out statements from Miss Henderson and Mr Keane's father, uncle and best friend, in which they described the impact Mr Keane's death had had on them.

Miss Henderson, who lived with Mr Keane and his parents at their home in Billinge, described how they were celebrating her boyfriend's birthday with a trip away on the day of his death.

She said: "Little did I know this would be our last time together. A happy day turned into the worst day of my life."

Judge Rose told Kershaw: "You brought great sadness, darkness and suffering to all who knew and loved Joseph Keane."

He continued: "What's evident from each of the four victim impact statements is the devastation that Joseph's death brought upon his friends and family and how their lives have been ruined by his utterly senseless and unnecessary death."

Bearded Kershaw was banned from driving for 11-and-a-half years and was told he will have to pass an extended driving test before he can drive again.

The court heard that he had previous convictions for drink-driving and speeding.

Wearing a fabric headband, a beige checked jacket, beige trousers and beige tie, he sat in the dock flanked by two dock officers throughout the hearing.

He occasionally looked at the ground as details about the incident were told to the court but showed no emotion as he was sentenced.