Lejan Lancaster-Baxter suffered minor injuries when his Volkswagen Golf GTI collided with two other cars and flipped onto its roof on Harrogate Road, Bradford, in February 2019. But his 19-year-old nephew Bradley Aldridge died at the scene and 21-year-old Declan Aldridge was seriously injured.
The 35-year-old, of Intake Terrace, Fagley, was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment at Bradford Crown Court today after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sharpe said the defendant was driving at “high speed”, along the wet road where a 30mph limit is in place, and “showing off to his passengers” in his new car.
He also told the court that none of the men inside the vehicle were wearing seatbelts and one witness claimed the defendant was driving at around 80mph, in a manner that was “erratic and dangerous”.
Lancaster-Baxter went to overtake a Hyundai, but his front wheel collided with the back of the car. His Golf then flipped onto its side and slid into an oncoming black Nissan Duke.
The car rolled over the front of the Nissan, which was occupied by a man and his four-year-old son, launched into the air at around 26mph, landed on its roof and slid around 20 metres down the road before coming to a stop, narrowly missing a pedestrian.
The court heard that Bradley suffered severe injuries and died at the scene at 1.10pm, while his cousin Declan, who was cut out of the crumpled vehicle by firefighters, fractured his right leg and left wrist.
Lancaster-Baxter was thrown from the car, but he only suffered cuts and bruises and walked away from the crash. When he was confronted about his driving by someone at the scene, he said he “was only doing 65mph”.
The father-of-five was taken to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment and then arrested.
The driver of the Nissan, which was badly damaged, said he had to be signed off work after the crash and could not sleep because he “can’t stop thinking about how close my son came to being killed”.
Conor Quinn, who represented the defendant, said there is a “plethora of mitigating factors”.
He said: “This was not a prolonged period of bad driving. There were no examples of ignoring give way signs, or traffic signals or failing to stop at junctions and there’s no suggestion the defendant was intoxicated in any way.
“Although he has accepted an element of bravado in the manner in which he was driving.”
He added: “The key mitigating factor is undoubtedly the defendant’s close relationship with Bradley. Whilst technically uncle and nephew, in reality they were brothers.
“Bradley’s mother, the defendant’s sister, Maria cared for the defendant more as a son than as a sister, following the death of their father when the defendant was just 11.”
In court, the victim’s mother Maria urged Judge Andrew Hatton to refrain from imposing a prison sentence on Lancaster-Baxter, claiming it would “result in further heartache” for the family.
But the judge sentenced him to 32 months imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving and 12 months imprisonment for causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The sentences will run concurrently and Lancaster-Baxter will also be disqualified from driving for eight years after he is released.
“Your driving created a substantial risk of danger to other road users; to the drivers and passengers of other cars, to the pedestrian who was within a whisker of serious injury or worse,” he said.
“Your dangerous driving was not momentary, it was prolonged, it was deliberate, and it was done at grossly excessive speed, well in excess of the speed limit."
The judge also said there was “considerable mitigation” as the defendant had shown remorse for killing “a very close relative" and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
He added: “Cases such as this cause only anxiety. The family of the accused and the family of the deceased or injured are often at loggerheads, here they are not. There are no winners, sadly only losers.”