Driver who had taken cannabis jailed for killing Yorkshire woman and injuring her grandchild in horror crash

A driver who was part of a ‘boisterous’ group of young men messing around in a car park before he collided with a family’s car and killed their grandmother has been jailed.

Jake Elshaw was doing 43mph in a 20mph zone in the Woodhouse area of Sheffield in March 2022 when he ploughed head-on into the car that Brenda Ellis, 73, was travelling in.

Elshaw, of Twickenham Close, Halfway, was showing off to his friends nearby when he drove through the junction at Cross Street in a black Saab he had bought just 10 days before.

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But within two seconds of entering Tannery Street, he crashed into a black Nissan Qashqai coming the other direction that contained Brenda, her daughter Samantha Draper and Mrs Draper’s daughters, then aged 18 and nine.

Jake Elsworth's driving killed grandmother Brenda Ellis, 73Jake Elsworth's driving killed grandmother Brenda Ellis, 73
Jake Elsworth's driving killed grandmother Brenda Ellis, 73

In a victim impact statement read out to Sheffield Crown Court, Mrs Draper, who was driving, said: "I saw the car coming. There was nothing I could do. Mum and my daughter started screaming. Then Mum went quiet."

She told the court that every window in the car smashed. Her younger daughter in the back seat was trapped, leading to her being rushed to Sheffield Children's Hospital where she stayed in a high-dependency unit with abdominal injuries for a week.

But nothing could be done to save the life of Brenda Ellis, who was in the back seat at the time and who died at the scene.

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Ms Draper said: "My childhood was an amazing one because of my mum. She was a second mum to all my friends when they came over. We spoke every day and went out most days. She was starting to enjoy her retirement and her newfound friends, which was a joy to see.

"I cannot forget the screams I heard that day. It was the last sound I ever heard my mum make. I will never forget hearing my girls in so much pain and how there was nothing I could do."

Witnesses later told police how they had seen a group of young men ‘acting boisterously’ in a nearby car park before the loud and modified Saab sped loudly away, came around a bend and ploughed through the junction at Cross Street without braking.

Elshaw later lied to police about smoking cannabis that day, and also said he "didn't believe" he had been speeding.

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Ms Draper said: "My mum was taken away by careless and selfish actions. Someone's actions took my mam's life and could have taken the lives of my girls. I have tried and have been unable to forgive him.

"We should have had more time. She should have had more time."

Elshaw pleaded guilty to causing both death and injury by dangerous driving at a hearing earlier this year.

Speaking in his defence, Richard Adams said the 30-year-old "deeply regrets" the events of March 13, saying he claims he will "never forget" the moment he was told Brenda had died and he would "love dearly to turn back the clock."

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Speaking in sentencing, Judge Jeremy Richardson KC saw fit to point out to Elshaw that since the date of the crash, the law in England had changed to upgrade the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving to life imprisonment.

Instead, he sentenced Elshaw to six years and four months in prison, and banned him from driving for another six years.

"Had the law been as it now is, the sentence today would have been much longer," said Judge Richardson.

"This is a serious and shocking case... it truly was a terrible scene. And you caused it.

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"I am prepared to accept your remorse is genuine. I do not doubt one bit that you have been affected by what you did.

"Your driving can only be described as deplorable and you were substantially affected by cannabis. The family has suffered significant anguish because of your conduct.

"The sentence I pass upon you is no reflection of the value of the life of Brenda Ellis. She was a much-loved grandmother and mother and you extinguished her life."