A speeding drink driver who fled the scene of a collision in Leeds in which a woman pedestrian was killed has been jailed.
Vanessa Barnes, aged 59, from Rossendale, Lancashire, had just left the Planet Ice rink, in Elland Road, after watching her son play for Leeds Knights on 10 December last year.
As she walked along the pavement at about 7:30pm, she was struck by a Ford Transit van driven by Jason Ward who was breaking the speed limit and contravening a solid double white line in the road.
He got out of the van following the collision before moving it back onto the pavement and then running away.
A passing police officer was flagged down and gave Mrs Barnes CPR, but she was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics a short time later.
Ward, aged 52, of Throstle Road, Middleton, was subsequently identified as a suspect and arrested the following day.
Enquiries showed he had spent the three hours prior to the collision in Morley drinking nearly six pints of lager before getting behind the wheel.
He was charged and pleaded guilty at court to causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit and failing to stop at the scene of a collision.
Today, he was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to eight years and four months in prison. He received a driving ban for a total of eleven and a half years.
In a Victim Personal Statement, Vanessa’s son Adam Barnes said:
“Vanessa Barnes was my Mum. An extraordinary person who treated everyone with love and kindness. She was also a wife, a daughter, a sister, a carer, and a dear friend to so many. A beautiful, selfless, amazing human being, who was brutally taken from us by the irresponsible actions of a drunk driver.
“On the night of the 10th December 2022, I was playing ice hockey for Leeds Knights, a team I’d been a part of for three years. My Mum and Dad had worked immensely hard and made so many sacrifices to enable me to play hockey at national league level.
“My Mum came to every game and never missed an opportunity to tell me how proud she was. She would stand, week on week, with my Grandma, on the same bench jumping and screaming with excitement. With her outgoing personality and infectious laugh, she was well known in the rink by everyone and had made many special friends within the ice hockey community over the years.
“Every week after each game my Mum would always wait outside the changing rooms for me. When I came out, she would squeeze me so hard, chatting and laughing before we said our goodbyes. Little did I know that that night would be our final goodbye before she was brutally killed by a coward who left her in the road to die with no care or compassion.
“No words will ever be able to pay tribute to how special my Mum was. She was always happy, the most selfless, loving person I will ever know. She lit up every room with her vibrant personality and infectious laugh. She was loved by everyone and will be missed every single day. A sentence will be served but I believe there is no limit to the never-ending suffering and grief we now feel as a family.”
Detective Constable Mark Turner, of the Major Collision Enquiry Team, said:
“Ward has done everything possible to avoid accepting responsibility for his actions on that evening. Despite drinking and clearly being over the drink drive limit, he got behind the wheel of his van without any consideration for other road users or pedestrians.
“After colliding with Vanessa, he continued to think only of himself, making off from the scene to avoid the police.
“He didn’t enter a plea until the last minute, which I am sure has extended the suffering endured by Vanessa’s family. My thoughts, and those of all the officers who dealt with this terrible incident, are with the family at this time.”
This post is based in a press release issued by West Yorkshire Police
Photo: Victim Vannessa Barnes and drunk driver Jason Ward
While you’re here, can we ask a favour?
South Leeds Life is published by a not-for-profit social enterprise. We keep our costs as low as possible but we’ve been hit by increases in the print costs for our monthly newspaper – up 83% in the last 12 months.
Could you help support local community news by making a one off donation, or even better taking out a supporters subscription?
Donate here, or sign up for a subscription at bit.ly/SLLsubscribe