'This is a lesson for us all': Speeding driver who knocked down and killed cyclist in Leeds spared jail after victim's family asked for him not to be locked up

A speeding driver who knocked down and killed a cyclist has been spared a prison sentence after a court heard how the victim's relatives had stated they did not want him to go to prison.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 4:45 am

Joshua Fairhead, 22, was given a suspended sentence over the death of 25-year-old Dale McDonald on Stanningley Road, near Bramley, on May 28, 2019.

Leeds Crown Court heard Mr McDonald was struck by Fairhead's Mini Cooper as he made his way home from work at 10.45pm.

Fairhead had his friend with him in the vehicle after they had been to the gym and then to a Nando's in Kirkstall.

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Dale McDonald died after being knocked of his push bike on Stanningley Road in 2019.

Camera footage showed Fairhead driving above the speed limit and undertaking vehicles in the moments before the incident..

Katherine Robinson, prosecuting, said Mr McDonald was wearing dark clothing and was either using his mobile phone to make a call or was listening to music with earphones at the time of the fatal collision.

The prosecutor said Mr McDonald cycled onto the road instead of using a nearby crossing and did not appear to notice the approaching car.

Fairhead stopped, got out of his vehicle and was visibly shaken and upset after the incident.

Mr McDonald died at the scene.

A collision investigation expert concluded that Fairhead was travelling around 55mph when he struck Mr McDonald on the 40mph stretch of road.

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Catherine Silverton, mitigating, said Fairhead has no previous convictions and accepted full responsibility for his actions.

She said: "He is a young man whose life has been shattered. He is unrecognisable from the man he was before this offence was committed."

Ms Silverton said Fairhead had lost his job as a result of the conviction and is unlikely to be able to pursue a career in the forces.

The barrister said Fairhead had stated he "wished he could swap places" with Mr McDonald and had written a letter to his relatives.

In the letter the defendant thanked Mr McDonald's family after they expressed a wish for him not to go to custody.

The letter states: "It's really affected a lot of people and all because of my mistake..

"Maybe once this over we could have a conversation, as I don't find this letter does justice to me and who I am.

"But I could not, not, write something to you as it isn't fair.

"Please understand that I am truly sorry about everything. I just thank you for your kind words."

Fairhead was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also made the subject of a curfew order for two months and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

"He was perfectly decent and hard-working. He had a promising life ahead of him which on that tragic night was lost."

The Judge praised Mr McDonald's family for the dignity and courage they had shown.

He said: "I am keenly aware of the tragedy and that they are serving a life sentence because they will never be able to forget what they have lost.

"They have expressed a wish that the defendant does not go to prison.

"I have to say that I find that an encouraging, remarkable and commendable state of affairs."

After sentencing Fairhead, Judge Marson added: "This is a lesson for all that driving in this way can be tragic."

Speaking after the tragedy two years ago, she said: “He kept everyone on his toes.

“He has a heart of gold and will be sadly missed.”

Chantel added: “He had a spontaneous streak that kept everybody on their toes, never shut up and loved winding me and his niece up.

“He was always too loud and wanted to make sure his presence was known but would do anything possible for his friends and family.”

Chantel said her brother enjoyed spending time with his family.

She said: “He loved parties, he loved exploring different cities on his bike and going on weekends away with my dad.

“He was also a family man who loved spending time with his niece and taking her places.”