An ‘extremely drunk’ driver who ‘drove over’ a car, killing its 28-year-old passenger, with his 7.5-tonne camper van on the way back from a festival has been jailed for nine years.
Adam Kershaw, 29, was nearly three times over the limit when he lost control of the converted box van and crushed the Peugeot 107 on the A65 near Ingleton in North Yorkshire.
Its passenger Joseph Keane died from fatal head injuries after the car his girlfriend Alyssa Henderson was driving crumpled under the weight of Kershaw’s van as they travelled on Mr keane’s birthday for a get-away.
Kershaw, who had previous drink-driving and speeding offences, had been driving in an ‘utterly dreadful, appalling and highly dangerous’ way for over 28 miles when he swerved around a corner at speed causing his van to lift onto two wheels before falling onto and ‘effectively driving over’ the car Mr Keane was in.
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Adam Kershaw, jailed for nine years for causing the death by dangerous driving of budding lawyer Joseph Keane (left). Shane Hughes who led police on a 37 miles chase in a decommissioned ambulance after his friend Adam Kershaw killed St Helens passenger Joseph Keane
Before the collision Kershaw was 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.
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.
Budding lawyer Joseph Keane, 28, from St Helens, was killed by a man dangerously driving a crudely converted camper van
‘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 13 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.’
The crudely converted camper van Adam Kershaw was driving before the fatal crash
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 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.
At the time of the crash Kershaw’s friend Shane Hughes had been driving a ‘decommissioned’ ambulance in convoy with him and Miss Henderson suffered further by seeing what she thought was an ambulance turn up with its blue lights flashing while her boyfriend was still alive.
‘After Hughes had taken stock of the situation and spoken to the defendant and his friends he turned around and drove off,’ said Mr Sharp.
Halifax man Hughes subsequently drove dangerously along the A65 and the A629 before crashing the ambulance onto the railway level crossing at Kildwick and narrowly avoided being hit by a passenger train.
Hughes was jailed for 22 months in 2018 for his offending.
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, near Wigan, Lancashire, 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 judge said the starting point for Kershaw’s case was 13 years and six months, which is close to the maximum term of 14 years, but he had to reduce the sentence to nine years in jail to reflect the defendant’s one-third credit for his guilty pleas.
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.
The victim’s father Terry Keane said Joseph was everything he could have wished for in a son and his death had caused ‘utter devastation’.
‘We will never get over the loss of Joe,’ he said.
‘The only solace we can find is having him in our lives for 28 years and
they were such special years.
‘In short he had everything to live for and his life should not have ended that day. What a waste of a beautiful, caring young man.’