'A wicked thing to do': Drug dealer who killed 82-year-old Leeds woman in horror crash told lies blaming his victim for the tragedy

A drug dealer who killed an 82-year-old woman as he drove at more than double the speed limit told lies to the police blaming the pensioner for causing the fatal crash.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 4:45 am

A Judge told Blake Priestley he was "wicked" for making the false accusations against Ann Hopper after she died in the horror collision on Otley Road, Leeds.

Mrs Hopper's relatives had to take the agonising decision to allow medics to turn off her life support machine hours after the incident.

Her husband died of a heart attack just ten days after the tragedy.

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Blake Priestley was jailed for five years and eight months over the death of Ann Hopper in the horror crash on Otley Road. Priestley lied to police after the incident, blaming Mrs Hopper for the collision.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Priestley was arrested again at the wheel of a car less than three months later in possession of packages of heroin and cocaine.

Martin Rose, prosecuting, said Mrs Hopper was very active for her age and was the full time carer for her husband since he suffered a stroke a number of years earlier.

Moments before the collision, on February 27, 2019, she drove her Toyota Yaris from her driveway onto Otley Road, Adel.

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Blake Priestley was jailed for five years and eight months at Leeds Crown Court.

Priestley, who was driving a borrowed BMW 5 Series, was driving at 80mph on the 30mph section of road seconds before the crash.

The prosecutor said: "The collision occurred because the defendant had been driving at excessive speed and, indeed, accelerated in an excessive manner.

"When she pulled out onto Otley Road he was simply unable to stop in time."

Mr Rose added: "It was only the fact that the car was fitted with a black box data recorder that portrayed what happened in this case."

82-year-old Ann Hopper suffered fatal injuries after her car was struck by Blake Priestley's BMW as he sped along Otley Road.

The data revealed that Priestley had braked sharply one second before the collision and was travelling at 68mph when he struck Mrs Hopper's car.

Her car was propelled along the road and she suffered multiple injuries to her head, spine, chest and pelvis.

A group of medical students travelling by the crash scene stopped to give Mrs Hopper first aid until paramedics arrived.

She was taken to Leeds General Infirmary but died at 11.45pm that day after her family gave permission for her life support machine to be switched off.

Police officers spoke to Priestley at the scene and he blamed Mrs Hopper for the collision, claiming she had "slammed on'' in the middle of the road.

He told the officers: "I can't blame the old woman. She would have panicked."

Priestley went on to claim that he had been travelling at between 30 and 35mph at the time and that trees were obscuring his view.

He said: "This car has literally come out of nowhere. She has slammed on in the middle of the road."

Priestley was confronted with the black box data evidence at a second interview and refused to comment further.

The court heard Mrs Hopper's husband, Michael, died of a heart attack days after his wife's death.

Mrs Hopper's sister, Brigid Croft, provided a victim statement to the court which was read out on her behalf.

She said: "For eight hours we went through the traumatic experience of being by her side as her life slipped away.

"Nothing has had a bigger impact on my life.

"I miss her more than I can say and will always have the memory of her last breath.

"On reflection, it is not surprising that he (Michael) died so soon after her death."

Priestley was then arrested in possession of drugs on May 18, 2019.

The prosecutor said police officers stopped the car he was driving and he was taken to a police station.

As he was being searched 46 wraps of heroin and cocaine fell from his jogging bottoms.

Priestley, who appeared in court via a prison video link, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of possessing a class A drug with intent to supply.

He was visibly upset and sobbed throughout much of the sentencing hearing.

Richard Woolfall, mitigating, said: "He is deeply sorry for causing this collision.

"It was never his intention to harm anybody.

"The trauma post Mrs Hopper's death has left him broken. He understands his suffering cannot compare in any way to the family of Mrs Hopper.

"The driving offence had a considerable impact upon him and led to his drug addiction and downward spiral."

Mr Woolfall said Priestley's partner, child and mother would be significantly affected by him going to prison, adding: "He understands he must be punished for what he has done."

Priestley was jailed for five years and eight months. He was banned from driving for eight years.

Sentencing, The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC said: "You could have braked and you could have slowed down had you not been travelling at such a speed."

The Judge told Priestley that his offending was aggravated by the lies he had told when he claimed Mrs Hopper was responsible for the collision.

He said: "That was wholly incorrect, it was without foundation and it was a wicked thing to do."