Three men have been found unanimously guilty of causing death by dangerous driving over a South Yorkshire horror crash involving a stolen lorry that caused the death of a 58-year-old woman.
It took the jury just four hours and 30 minutes to find Alan Mawhinney, David Mellor and Wayne Carroll guilty of the charge this afternoon, following a two week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
Jacqueline Wileman was power-walking near her home in Brierley, Barnsley on September 14 last year when she was hit by a stolen lorry, that subsequently ploughed into a nearby house.
The driver of the vehicle, Karn Hill, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving prior to the trial beginning on February 5.
As he opened the case, prosecutor, Jason Pitter QC, said it was the Crown’s case that Mawhinney, 53, of Calder Crescent, Kendray, Mellor, 48, of Bank End Road, Worsbrough, Barnsley and Carroll, 29, of Chestnut Street, Grimethorpe, Barnsley were all passengers in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
The jury accepted the Crown’s case, by finding all three men guilty.
Carroll was also found guilty of aggravated vehicle taking. Mawhinney and Mellor pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking.
The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, adjourned the case until tomorrow morning, when all four men will be sentenced.
Mr Pitter said the truck was travelling at least twice the 30 miles per hour speed limit and on the wrong side of the road in when the collision took place on Common Road.
He told the jury that Mrs Wileman’s desire to maintain her fitness by power-walking ‘tragically and ironically led to her death’.
“She was dragged along the road causing extensive injuries and she was immediately killed, such was the speed and dangerous way the vehicle was being driven,” said Mr Pitter.
He added: “It's tempting to say this was simply a case of Mrs Wileman being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But that would be to mistake the reality.
“She was exactly where she should have been. It was these defendants, along with Mr Hill who were doing the wrong thing at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Mr Pitter explained how Mellor had taken the tractor unit from his employers and, on the day of the crash, the lorry had driven dangerously around the area all morning, with those inside making off from a number of petrol stations without paying.
The prosecutor said those in the truck appeared to be laughing and joking. He said: “It was, in short, a laugh”.
He told the jury how the truck was spotted by a police officer as it approached Brierley on Common Road in the early afternoon.
Mr Pitter said the officer decided to follow the vehicle to keep it in sight rather than chase it.
Speaking after the guilty verdicts were returned, Detective Inspector Rob Platts, who oversaw the investigation, said: “Mrs Wileman’s life was cut tragically short by the horrific events of that Friday afternoon. Her family are now without their mum, daughter, sister and caring friend as a result of the actions by these four men.
“The havoc this incident caused, with the HGV being driven so dangerously and out of control, also resulted in an injury to another driver, severe damage to three other vehicles and damage to a house that will have to be re-built.
“My thoughts are today with Jacqueline’s loved ones who have shown immense strength and dignity throughout the court process.”
“Many people may already have seen the mobile phone footage showing the offenders from this HGV attempting to flee the scene knowing full well what they had just done. Thanks to the brave actions of the people present in Brierley that day, we were able to quickly apprehend these despicable and cowardly men.”
“On behalf of South Yorkshire Police, I wish to thank those people who put themselves in harm’s way to stop the men from getting away, as well as all other people who have come forward to provide evidence in this case.”
“Despite Hill entering a guilty plea, all four men have shown very little true remorse throughout this process and I hope that they will now have a long think and hard look at themselves to maybe fully realise the damage and impact they have caused.
“I can say that Jacqueline’s family and friends, the residents and visitors to Brierley that day, along with all of the other professionals and emergency services who attended and were involved in the investigation will never forget the events of Friday, September 14, 2018.”