Devastated family react as 'cowardly' hit-and-run scooter rider who killed father-of-four is jailed

The heartbroken family of a much-loved father-of-four who was by killed by a “cowardly” hit-and-run scooter rider has told how they have been left devastated by his death.

Tobias Neale, aged 41, of Howard Street, Darfield, Barnsley, who has been sentenced to nine months of custody at Sheffield Crown Court after he admitted causing death by careless driving and failing to stop after an accident in Barnsley.

Sheffield Crown Court heard on August 17 how Tobias Neale, aged 41, of Howard Street, Darfield, Barnsley, had been riding a Yamaha Vity scooter along Manor Road, at Cudworth, Barnsley, when he turned at a T-junction and struck pedestrian Brett Michael Smith on Barnsley Road.

Laura Marshall, prosecuting, said Neale came out of the junction and was seen by witnesses to look right but not left before he struck 48-year-old Mr Smith.

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She added: “Mr Smith was hit in the chest area and as a result he fell to the floor and he hit the floor with such a bang.”

Pictured is an image previously released by South Yorkshire Police in their attempt to trace a hit-and-run scooter rider after pedestrian Brett Michael Smith was killed at the junction of Manor Road and Barnsley Road, Cudworth, Barnsley, in an accident.

Ms Marshall said one of the most distinctive things people recalled hearing was the crack of his skull hitting the road.

Neale initially stopped, according to Ms Marshall, before he fled to his partner’s workplace at the Muscle Unit gym, in Athersley South, Barnsley, where the scooter was concealed.

Ms Marshall added that Mr Smith’s wife was seen by a witness running to the scene and was asked if she knew this man and she said ‘of course, he’s my husband’.

Mr Smith, who was also a grandfather, had a pool of blood coming from his head and he was taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, according to Ms Marshall, but he died after surgeons attempted to save his life.

The deceased’s wife, Julia Smith, stated: “He was a very kind and loving individual who would do anything for anyone. When we met I saw Brett as my best friend and soulmate.”

She added: “I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. The day we were told of Brett’s death completely broke me.”

His sister Tracy Atack stated when everyone heard Brett had been killed it left their family completely devastated.

She added: “When we received the news it affected us all so much. Brett was a warm-hearted person who would have done anything for anyone.”

One of Mr Smith’s children said: “Every girl should have their dad in their life and for him to be taken the way he was is so cruel.”

Neale, who contacted the police the following day, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and to failing to stop after the accident on August 21, 2019.

Sean Fritchely, defending, said: “My client can only offer his heartfelt sympathies and apologies and it may be deemed too little too late but his sympathies are genuine.”

Mr Fritchely added: “He wishes he could turn back the clock. It was weak of him and ‘cowardly’ has been used to describe his behaviour.”

He said: “This is genuine remorse from a man who wishes he had done things differently.”

Judge Sarah Wright told Neale the offence is aggravated by his failure to stop and by his attempts to conceal the scooter.

She added no sentence she can pass will compensate Mr Smith’s family for their loss because they will have to live with what Neale did for the rest of their lives.

Judge Wright sentenced Neale, who has previous convictions including dangerous driving, to nine months of custody and disqualified him from driving for 40 months.