A SPEEDING driver who smashed into a car, killing a much-loved literature festival volunteer, has been jailed for three years and four months.

Billy Horsfall fled the scene and evaded the police for eight days after fatally injuring Jane Floweth, 68, near the Guide Post Hotel in Common Road, Low Moor, Bradford, on February 24 last year.

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Ms Floweth’s partner of 35 years, Catherine Pulle, 57, was seriously injured in the collision, Bradford Crown Court heard today.

Horsfall, 25, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to causing the death of Ms Floweth by dangerous driving.

He told the police: “I deserve prison. I don’t deserve the light of day.”

Prosecutor Dave MacKay said Horsfall was stopped by the police on Bierley House Avenue, Bradford, for a routine motoring check two hours before the crash.

Pulled over at 6.20pm, he told officers he had just bought the silver Vauxhall Astra he was driving for £400 and he proved to them that it was insured.

He was later seen speeding on the A641 Huddersfield Road, Low Moor. Horsfall was pursued by the police but his speed was so excessive that they felt it was unsafe to continue the chase and turned off their blue flashing lights on Common Road.

Ms Pulle was executing a U-turn to find a parking space when Horsfall, who had been doing up to 70mph in a 30 zone, crashed into the passenger side of her blue Honda Jazz, the court was told.

Ms Floweth, in the front passenger seat, sustained severe chest injuries, including a collapsed lung. She had a heart attack and suffered a fatal brain injury, dying in hospital on March 2.

Ms Pulle suffered a broken hand and bruising. She was in shock at the crash scene and off work for three months, Mr MacKay said.

She said in her victim personal statement that her life had changed forever.

She had broken sleep and felt uncontrollable sadness at the loss of Ms Floweth, a popular volunteer at Ilkley Literature Festival.

Both Horsfall’s passengers were detained at the scene but he ran away, later saying: “My head told me to stop but my legs just kept on running.”

The court heard he evaded arrest for a week before handing himself in on March 4.

He told the police he had read of Ms Floweth’s passing in the papers and was deeply ashamed and remorseful. 

Horsfall said he did not see the Honda until the last second and would have to live with his actions for the rest of his life.

He told the police “his head wasn’t right, and he had been battling demons” so he should not have been driving that night.

Mr MacKay said that although Horsfall stated at the time that he was unlikely to get behind a wheel again, he was caught driving an untaxed vehicle three months later.

He had 14 previous convictions for 32 offences, mainly of violence and disorder, and no serious driving matters. In January, 2018, just a month before the fatal crash, he was prosecuted for failing to stop, the court was told.

Horsfall’s barrister, Andrew Dallas, said a psychiatric report revealed that he had suffered the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder after the crash and had a history of anxiety and depression.

He was of no fixed abode and had a complex and troubled family background.

Although Horsfall was speeding, he had braked hard before the collision, reducing his speed to about 45mph at the point of impact.

He had no previous convictions for dangerous or careless driving and deserved full credit for his early guilty plea.

“He is a desperately remorseful man. He did come forward in the end and face up to the justice he deserves,” Mr Dallas said.

Judge David Hatton QC said Horsfall was driving “with total disregard for speed limits.”

As well as killing Ms Floweth, he had caused serious injury to Ms Pulle. He had fled the scene and did not surrender himself to the police for more than a week.

“It is impossible to put a value on a life or to compensate for the loss of a life,” Judge Hatton said.

Horsfall was banned from driving for three years and eight months and must take an extended retest to drive again.

After the case, Sergeant Alison Webb, of the Major Collision Enquiry Team, said: “We would like to express our sympathies to Jane’s family, who suffered a sudden and tragic loss because of Horsfall’s reckless actions.

“This should serve as a reminder to us all of what can happen when a vehicle is driven unsafely and without regard for other road users.”