'Trail of chaos and misery': Drunk driver injured child in head-on crash after stealing taxi

A drunk driver injured a child in a head-on crash after he stole a taxi and left a "trail of chaos and misery".

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 10:18 pm
Graham Whitehead injured girl in head-on crash on Soothill Lane after stealing taxi.

Graham Whitehead was locked up for 16 months after a court heard how he put lives in danger and caused two vehicles to be written off.

Leeds Crown Court heard the incident happened in Dewsbury and Batley on November 16 last year.

Dave Mackay, prosecuting, described how Whitehead was drunk and aggressive when a taxi arrived to pick him up from the Crown pub, Leeds Road, Dewsbury, at 8.30pm.

Graham Whitehead injured girl in head-on crash on Soothill Lane after stealing taxi.

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The defendant was arguing with a woman and had a pint glass in his hand.

He smashed the glass on the ground before getting into the taxi.

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The taxi driver tried to calm Whitehead during the journey to Chickenley.

At the end of the journey Whitehead said to the driver: "You do know you are not going to get paid?"

The driver got out and went to eject Whitehead from the taxi.

The defendant climbed into the driver's seat and drove off with the cab.

Mr Mackay said Whitehead crashed head-on into a car around three miles away on Soothill Lane, Batley.

Whitehead drove downhill at speed and the woman driving in the opposite direction was unable to get out of the way.

The youngster banged her head in the collision.

The stolen car then struck the rear of a taxi which was parked close by.

Two of the vehicles had to be written due to the damage caused.

The woman was screaming as she got out of her car.

Whitehead approached her and asked her if she was alright before walking away.

He was covered in blood when police arrested him nearby.

Whitehead, of Hazel Drive, Chickenley, Dewsbury, refused to provide a blood specimen to test if he was over the drink-drive limit.

He was interviewed about the incident but said he could not recall the events because he was so drunk.

The defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, failing to provide a blood specimen, driving without a licence and having no insurance.

A victim statement was read to the court on behalf of the parents of the injured girl.

They described how she is now afraid to travel in cars and is "scared in case that bad man who stole the taxi comes and finds her."

Whitehead has previous convictions for drink-related offending.

Katherine Robinson, mitigating, said: "He expresses genuine remorse.

"When he is in drink he is a totally different person."

Miss Robinson said Whitehead pleaded guilty to the offences at an early stage and was seeking help to tackle his problems with alcohol.

Jailing Whitehead, Judge Simon Phillips, QC, said: "You selfishly got into this vehicle when you had no right to take it and left this trail of chaos and misery.

"You have no thought for the safety of yourself or for others when you are in drink."