12-year-old daughter pays tribute to Yorkshire mum killed by speeding drink driver who had taken cocaine

The teenage daughter of a mum who was killed by a speeding driver on his way home from the pub where he had drank and taken cocaine has paid tribute.

Mitchell was jailed at Leeds Crown Court to four years.

Melissa Whittington suffered devastating injuries after Jason Mitchell, 46, knocked her down in his company car.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mitchell was jailed at Leeds Crown Court to four years.

Mitchell was jailed at Leeds Crown Court to four years.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. Mitchell has a previous conviction for drink driving in 2010.

Mrs Whittington’s family were in court for the sentencing hearing.

The prosecutor read a letter to court written by Mrs Whittington’s 12-year-old daughter Layla, on behalf of her brothers and sister.

She said: “How can we explain the impact the loss of our mum had had on our lives?

“Our mum was everything to us.

“She was beautiful inside and out and she always put a smile on everyone’s faces.

“She was our guiding light.

“We will always remember our trips to the seaside. We cannot build on the memories we have of our mum.

“We can only remember the ones we have.”

Tom Gent, mitigating, said:”This is the most tragic of cases and one that has destroyed a number of lives.

“The defendant wholly accepts responsibility and is wracked with guilt. He realises there is nothing he can say or do to take away the pain.”

Mr Gent said Mitchell, a forklift truck company salesman, had been suffering from anxiety and depression at the time of the incident following the death of his father and a fire which gutted his mother’s home.

He said: “It is clear that his mental health had deteriorated significantly and he had turned to the use of cocaine as a crutch.”

The barrister added: “He struggles to see how he deserves to live when Melissa has been killed.”

Jailing Mitchell, The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl, QC, said: “I accept that your remorse is genuine. But none of that will bring her back.”

Mrs Whittington, 32, was struck by the vehicle as she crossed Healey Road, close to Mitchell’s home, on July 14 last year.

Mitchell drove his Audi A5 at more than double the speed limit during the half-mile journey home from the Brewers Pride, in Ossett, Wakefield.

Heather Gilmore, prosecuting, said Mitchell had drunk four-and-a-half pints of cider and a Jack Daniel’s and coke before the incident.

He later admitted to police that he had taken two lines of cocaine.

Ms Gilmore said Mitchell was a regular at the pub and had been out with his friends to commemorate what would have been his late father’s 80th birthday.

Others in the pub described how Mitchell appeared drunk and was slurring his words.

Mrs Whittington had been in the pub with her partner Mark Blackburn.

They were among a group of people invited by Mitchell and his partner to go back to their home for more drinks and food.

The prosecutor said Mrs Whittington was walking back to Mitchell’s home at 9.55pm when she was struck by the defendant’s car.

The court heard Mitchell had initially planned to get a lift home from his partner, Laura Stubbs.

As he left the pub he decided to move his car so it would not be blocking the entrance for a beer delivery truck which was due to arrive the next morning.

Ms Gilmore said one of Mitchell’s friends got in the car with him and he continued to drive home.

Witnesses described how they heard the wheels of the vehicle spinning on the gravel outside the pub as he set off.

A tracker fitted to the car showed Mitchell had reached 69mph shortly before braking harshly.

Mrs Whittington was struck by the front of the car and collided with the windscreen before landing on the road.

Mitchell parked his car outside his house on Healey Road before running back the scene of the crash.

Mrs Whittington’s partner came across the incident as he walked up the road.

The court heard Mitchell was at the kerbside saying: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I have done this. I know her.”

Mitchell was almost twice the drink drive limit when he was tested at a police station.

A blood test also revealed he had cocaine in his system.