John Yates imprisoned for fatal accident on M6 Thelwall Viaduct

A drug driver has been jailed after killing an expectant St Helens father in a horrific accident in Warrington.

Chris Smith, 41, was tragically killed on the M6 ​​Thelwall Viaduct after John Yates drove into him at around 128mph.

Mr Smith, who had dreamed of having a family of his own since he was 17, had traveled home from work to “cuddle his pregnant wife and her belly”.

Yates, who was under the influence of drugs, fled the scene by jumping over a barrier immediately after the incident.

The 28-year-old appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and failing to produce a specimen for analysis.

The horrifying incident happened on November 15 last year at around 00:30am on the M6 ​​between Junction 20, Lymm, and Junction 21, Woolston.

St. Helens Star:

This part of the motorway had been reduced from four lanes to just one lane due to construction work, which is why a speed limit of 80 km/h applied.

Mr Smith was on his way home from work at the time and had finished his night shift early so he could spend the next few days decorating his baby’s nursery and shopping for strollers with his partner, prosecutor Jayne Morris said.

Yates, of the NFA but previously from North Wales, was approaching the site at such a speed that some witnesses said it would not have been possible to stop, Ms Morris said.

As the lanes were reduced to one, Yates attempted to fit into a gap between Mr Smith’s car and another driver’s car by “pushing through cones”.

But because he was traveling at over 100mph and “left it too late” he was unable to do so and cut one of the cars down before slamming into the rear of Mr Smith’s Peugeot.

This caused both his and Mr. Smith’s vehicles to swerve “multiple times” and land on the shoulder.

Ms Morris explained that Yates fled the scene here, leaving his shoes behind, while witnesses and bystanders tried to help Mr Smith, who was seriously injured, from his car. But the doors would not open.

Emergency services were then called and Mr Smith was taken to Salford Royal Hospital. Meanwhile, officers were assisted by a police helicopter to try to locate Yates.

He was found near the crime scene later that morning, barefoot. The court heard him refuse to give officers a breath or blood sample.

Mr Smith died on November 16 from head and chest injuries sustained in the accident.

Ms. Morris read a victim statement from Mr. Smith’s partner to the court.

“Three months ago my life was as perfect as it could be.

“It was the happiest thing I’ve ever had in my life.

“No words can really describe the heartbreak as doctors told me Chris was brain dead.

“I was robbed of my soul mate that I wanted to marry.

“My son was deprived of his father.

“John Yates will never be forgiven for what he did.”

Yates has been convicted of a drug-driving offense since 2018.

Defending, Sarah Baddrawy said her client, who works in the nursing profession, was “deeply remorseful”.

Ms Baddrawy said her client had been using drugs, namely cannabis and cocaine, since a difficult time in his life several years ago.

She said his explanation for leaving the scene was that he was “overwhelmed” by the consequences of his actions.

Concluding, Judge Simon Berkson said, “The circumstances of this case are truly tragic and Chris Smith needlessly lost his life solely because of your dangerous driving fueled by your illegal use of illegal drugs.”

“The evidence in this case shows that you drove the Volkswagen Scirocco, a powerful car, at a very high speed.

“Surveillance has been played out in front of the courts and it’s a really chilling picture of what happened.

“It is shocking to see how quickly the whole incident is unfolding.

“Then you got out of the car and ran away — you left the scene of your horrific crime.”

Speaking about the impact on Mr Smith’s partner and baby, who he said were “deprived” of a soul mate and father, Mr Berkson added: “There is no judgment this court can hand down that will affect this loss can represent in any way.”

Yates was sentenced to eight years and three months in prison, two-thirds of which he is serving.

He will also be disqualified from driving for a period of seven years from the date of his release. John Yates imprisoned for fatal accident on M6 Thelwall Viaduct

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