Victim's family criticises 6 year sentence for teen driver who killed three in M606 wrong-way crash

Three people were killed when Jack Simpson, then 15, deliberately drove on the wrong side of the motorway.

The mother of one of the victims of the M606 wrong-way crash has urged the teen driver responsible to "live a better life" after he was sentenced to six years.

Jack Simpson, who was just 15-years-old at the time, crashed a stolen van head-on into a taxi while driving the wrong way on a motorway in a bid to avoid police.

The driver of the taxi Sohail Ali, 28, of Bradford, and his passenger Simon McHugh, 48, of Huddersfield died.

Sohail Ali and Simon McHugh were in a taxi that was hit by a van on the M606. Credit: West Yorkshire Police

Kyden Leadbeater, 18, from Bradford, who was a passenger in the van, also died.

During the sentencing, Mr McHugh's mother, Gillian McHugh, gave a powerful victim impact statement in court. She said: "My son doesn't have a life any more. Please use it, do some good with your life."

She told the defendant she hoped he would have a happy life with children, adding she hoped no-one would "knock on his door in the middle of the night to say one of his own" had been killed.

Directly addressing Simpson, she said: "So Jack, think about that. Live your life as a better life. Get your life back on track."

As she spoke, Simpson's mother mouthed "I'm sorry" to her.

After Simpson was sentenced to six years - three in prison, and three on licence - Gillian McHugh told ITV News of her disappointment, saying that he should have got a longer sentence. But she added that she also felt some sympathy for him.

She said: "I feel sorry for him in a way because of the upbringing he's had, but he was still capable of being able to drive a car at high speed. I hope that with this sentence when he comes out in two or three years' time on licence that he will have changed his life around and will not go out causing mayhem again.

"His parents who brought him up should be sentenced along with him, because who lets a 15-year-old boy go out at night doing these sort of crimes. Where are the parents?"

Jack Simpson was days short of his 16th birthday when he crashed a stolen van head-on into a taxi while driving the wrong way on a motorway. Credit: West Yorkshire Police

She added: "I hope that this boy will see the error of his ways. He's still got a life, he's got a life out there. My son has no life. He's only 16, perhaps he can turn into a normal, human, caring person.

"I said to him, 'Come live with me, and I'll bring you up as you should be brought up, as a young, responsible man, not a delinquent hooligan. Come and live with me for a short time and you'll learn how you should respect other people.

"I hope he lives a long and happy life and I hope that when he's an old man, when he's frail and old like me that he doesn't get a knock in the middle of the night to say one of his kids is squashed on the motorway somewhere. I hope it doesn't happen to him, but I hope he learns the error of his ways. But whether he will or not, I don't know."

She also spoke of her devastation at losing her youngest son, who was a chef.

"It was half past two in the morning when I found out about the fatal accident. For the first fortnight I didn't know where I was, couldn't eat, sleep, drink.

"It will always be there, I'll never get over it, I used to go on holiday with him and everything. He was a friend as well as my youngest son."

Simon McHugh was travelling by taxi back to the house he shared with his mother when he was killed in the crash.

The court heard the van driven by Simpson, who was on bail at the time over allegations of night-time burglaries, had been stolen from outside a property in Pudsey on June 13, and was used in the afternoon to commit a robbery.

Judge Richard Mansell QC said that by 10.45pm, Simpson was driving the van with two passengers when it was spotted by a police officer who began following it.

Simpson "immediately accelerated away" from the police car, which activated its blue lights and sirens, the judge said.

Recovery work after the collision on the M606.

The court heard Simpson reached speeds of up to 70mph in a 30mph zone while being pursued by the officer, drove through a temporary red light protecting roadworks and went the wrong way round a roundabout.

Judge Mansell said Simpson drove in the direction of Cleckheaton, going onto the wrong side of the road to overtake another vehicle and reaching around 90mph.

The teenager went the wrong way round a second roundabout before joining the M606 slip road in the wrong direction, the court heard.

The judge said one witness described flashing his lights and blowing his horn at Simpson, but he "made no attempt to move".

"He believed you were pushing the van as hard as it was possible to push it, from the noise," Judge Mansell said.

He told Simpson an HGV driver saw him "plough straight into that taxi (driven by Mr Ali) causing it to leap into the air".

"You didn't even brake," the judge said.

He added: "Nothing I can do by way of sentence can possibly compensate the family and friends of these three men who tragically lost their lives as a result of your senseless driving.

"You were seriously injured but you have recovered from your injuries."

Peter Moulson QC, mitigating, said Simpson had been "traumatised by witnessing domestic abuse between his parents and in his father's subsequent relationships".

He told the court: "He has killed a friend and caused the deaths of two other wholly innocent people.

"None of the terrible consequences of that criminality were in any way intended or deliberate."

He said a pre-sentence report concluded Simpson "genuinely regrets his actions and feels guilt and remorse, but struggles to verbalise this".