A VAN driver who had smoked crack cocaine before crashing into a nine-year-old boy and killing him on a country lane has been jailed for eight years.

Luke Widdop, 51, of Keighley, did not stop at the scene in Sutton-in-Craven, leaving George Lewis fatally injured after he was thrown from the road and into a field.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Luke WiddopLuke Widdop (Image: Police)
His father Michael Lewis and another child, who cannot be identified by the media, were also injured in the collision which happened when they were walking on the road at around 9pm on September 17, 2021.

Bradford Crown Court heard that dairy worker Widdop, who has a criminal record of more than 50 offences dating back to 1989, had smoked crack cocaine at some point before driving home in a work van.

Traces of heroin were also found in his system after his arrest.

Widdop – who the court heard had used heroin for 30 years – was speeding at around 50mph, where the limit was 30mph, and later told police he was “tired” after being at work, and just wanted to “put his feet up”, the court heard.

Mr Lewis was leading the two children and had illuminated his mobile phone torch to see the way and to warn oncoming drivers, the court heard.

When he realised a vehicle was coming towards them, he urged the youngsters to come in closer to a stone wall on the lane, which had no pavement.

Judge Jonathan Rose, sentencing, said: “Sadly, that was not enough to save them.

“You struck each of them in turn.”

George died from multiple injuries at the scene.

His father was also injured, including suffering a broken hand, while the other child was admitted to hospital with cuts and bruises.

Widdop drove home but handed himself into police soon after, telling officers he had drunk two cans of beer after the collision.

He claimed not to have realised he had hit three people but surrendered after seeing damage to the van and a police helicopter in the sky.

A mouth swab revealed he had taken cocaine, and further tests revealed he had also used heroin although the timing and amount could not be determined.

Widdop previously admitted causing death by careless driving while unfit through drugs at his first appearance at magistrates’ court.

A victim statement on behalf of Mr Lewis described his son as a clever, happy boy who had enjoyed learning.

His love of dinosaurs gave him ambitions of becoming a palaeontologist, his father said.

Katherine Robinson, prosecuting, read a statement from the boy’s paternal grandmother, whose name was not given in court, which said: “Grief is such a small word for such a huge amount of pain.

“We loved him so much.”

John Bottomley, defending, said: “The victim’s death will be on his conscience for the rest of his life.”

In sentencing Judge Rose described George as a youngster who was gifted and could have made a success of anything he chose to do in life.

Addressing the defendant, he said that through his careless driving and drug taking: “You took away such future as he had.”

He added: “It is quite clear from your previous court appearances and your offending, including speeding and driving while under the influence, have taught you nothing about the dangers you pose to other road users and pedestrians.”

He jailed him for eight years and banned him from driving for an extended period once he was released.

After sentencing, Judge Rose addressed George’s family in court and said that although he did not know the little boy, hearing about him had had a “very powerful impact” on him.

Detective Constable Mark Turner, of the Major Collision Enquiry Team, said: “The reckless actions of Widdop took away any future for George who was just walking home with his family.

“We have continued to support the family throughout this long investigation, and I hope today can bring them some closure and sense of justice, in what has been an extremely difficult few years for them.

“I hope today’s sentence also sends a clear message to anyone who thinks they can get behind the wheel whilst unfit through drink or drugs.”