Jail for reckless driver who cut Hebden Bridge man’s life short

Kyan McWhir has been jailed for six years after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving in Hebden Bridge
Kyan McWhir has been jailed for six years after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving in Hebden Bridge

A rookie driver who caused the death of a newly-married father in a hit-and-run crash in Hebden Bridge has been jailed for six years.

Retired prison officer Chris Smith had married his partner Claire at the beginning of August, but about 12 weeks later he suffered multiple injuries when he was hit by Kyan McWhir’s speeding Volkswagen Polo as he tried to cross Albert Street.

Chris Smith, 63, of Hebden Bridge, was killed after being hit by a car

Chris Smith, 63, of Hebden Bridge, was killed after being hit by a car

McWhir, of Westfield, Old Town, Hebden Bridge, had only passed his driving test in June last year and bought the VW Polo just weeks before the fatal collision last October.

Bradford Crown Court heard how police officers on patrol that evening had been concerned about McWhir’s erratic driving and one of the officers had tapped on the window of his car when they stopped at a set of traffic lights.

But prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said McWhir drove off when the lights changed and turned onto Albert Street which is a narrow road in the centre of town with a speed limit of 20mph.

McWhir came up behind a retired lady in a Renault Clio and tried to overtake her because he thought she was driving too slowly, but he was confronted by an on-coming BMW 320 and as he attempted to complete the manoeuvre he struck both of the vehicles hard causing significant damage to them.

The scene of the fatal crash in Hebden Bridge

The scene of the fatal crash in Hebden Bridge

Mr Sharp said McWhir did not stop after those collisions and drove off at a “grossly excessive speed” with one witness describing his driving as “crazily fast”.

As he went round a right-hand bend on the wrong side of the road McWhir’s car hit Mr Smith, 63, throwing him up into the air.

“A GP was passing and she immediately tried to help Mr Smith,” said Mr Sharp.

“She examined him. He was still alive but unresponsive. Paramedics attended the scene but their efforts to save him were in vain.”

Flowers left at Albert Street, Hebden Bridge, in memory of Chris Smith

Flowers left at Albert Street, Hebden Bridge, in memory of Chris Smith

After hitting Mr Smith McWhir drove on demolishing a street sign and crashing into a raised pavement before he ran off ignoring shouts to stop from bystanders.

McWhir was later arrested and told police:”I panicked and ran off. I’m sorry.”

The 22-year-old father-of-one pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to the charge of causing death by dangerous driving and his lawyer Marlon Grossman told the court that his tearful client was now “ridden with guilt”.

“This is something he knows he will have to live with for the rest of his life” said Mr Grossman.

“He can’t change what he did last October and no words that he says, nor that I say on his behalf, can go any way to address the devastating effects that he knows his actions have had on so many people.”

Mr Smith’s grieving widow Claire and other family members were in court to see the sentence passed on McWhir and in a victim personal statement read by Mr Sharp she described her husband as a kind-hearted, funny and caring man.

“We married on the 2nd of August 2014 and we were both extremely happy.

“We had planned to go on our honeymoon at the beginning of 2015 but it wasn’t to be. Sadly Chris was killed on the 23rd of October and my happiness was gone.”

The court heard that at one stage McWhir had tried to blame the deceased for the collision, but the judge accepted that the defendant had not maintained that stance and he was now “wracked with remorse”.

The defendant was banned from driving for five years. He will have to pass an extended driving test before holding a licence again.