Young driver jailed for killing husband and wife in high-speed head-on smash

A young driver who killed a husband and wife in a head-on smash while travelling at high speed has been jailed.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 3:01 pm

Thomas Robert Coyles was behind the wheel of a Honda Civic travelling at "at least 86mph" when he lost control and veered into the path of a taxi on Castle Syke Hill, between Pontefract and Ackworth, on the evening of June 28, 2019.

Leeds Crown Court was told that Paul and Susan Gossedge were travelling in the taxi and suffered fatal injuries. The taxi driver was also seriously injured, along with Coyles' 16-year-old female passenger.

Prosecutor Thomas Storey, said that CCTV placed 500 metres before the impact captured Coyle's car travelling at 65 mph.

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Flowers left at the scene where Mr and Mrs Gossedge died.

One witness described the Civic as sounding like the driver had his "foot to the floor", while another driver said the car was "flying".

The Toyota Prius taxi had been travelling at around 40mph, well below the road's 60mph limit, while the Civic was calculated to have been going at 86mph, or perhaps more, when it hit the taxi front-on.

The collision happened next to a layby just north of the junction with Sandy Gate Lane.

The Civic was left on its roof and the scene was described as being one of "utter devastation".

Mr Storey said there were efforts to resuscitate Mrs Gossedge, a 69-year-old retired teacher, at the scene but she was unable to be saved. She had been sat in the back seat.

Mr Gossedge, who had been in the front passenger seat, was rushed to hospital to undergo emergency operations but died three days later.

Both had been wearing seatbelts at the time.

The taxi driver was also badly injured and left needing the use of a wheelchair. He now walks with a stick and has a permanent limp.

The young teenage passenger in Coyles' car also suffered multiple injuries, including bleeding to the brain, bleeding to the abdomen, a fractured spine, a broken arm and hand and bruised lungs.

Coyles, who is now 23, also suffered a broken back and fractured feet.

Coyles and his passenger had left a friend's house in Hemsworth on the evening of June 28 with the intention of driving to Xscape in Castleford.

They had been driving in convoy with a Ford Fiesta driven by another friend, but it was accepted that the pair were not racing each other.

Coyles later said he could not remember the journey prior to the impact or the crash itself. Tests showed he had not been drinking or taking drugs.

Following a full investigation, he was arrested in August 2019 and a prepared statement was read to police. He answered 'no comment' to additional questions put to him during interview.

In a statement read out by Mr and Mrs Gossedge's daughter to the court, she said the happy couple had been married for 47 years, and lived life to the full enjoying music and the theatre.

Fighting back tears, she said: "They were full of life. Two-and-a-half years on, I still can't believe their lives have been lost in this way.

"They were wonderful parents."

She said that they had been having dinner at a friend's house that evening, and were on their way home to Ackworth.

As a doctor who deals with trauma, she said her parents' injuries were the worst she had ever seen in 20 years of work.

She also turned her attention to Coyles, saying that although he did not intend to kill her parents that night, his actions were "incomprehensible", given that his own sister had died in a crash in 2014 while travelling as a passenger. The driver in that instance was convicted of causing death by careless driving.

Impact statements were also read out to the court from the taxi driver, and Coyles' young passenger, who said her life has been ruined by his actions that night.

Coyles, of Dulverton Rise, Pontefract, admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Mitigating, James Horne, said that Coyles, who has no previous convictions, never denied the charges and admitted all four put to him during a short hearing at Leeds Crown Court last year.

He said that Coyles often burst into tears at the thought of what he had done, and had wished only he was involved in the crash that night.

He said that he had suffered serious injuries but admitted that he "was the author of his own downfall".

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC jailed him for six years and four months and said: "You increased your speed dramatically and the manner of your driving became dangerous.

"It was a quite deliberate decision to drive at that speed, why you chose to do so may never be known.

"You have suffered tragedy when you sister died when you were 14. You of all people should have had a greater awareness for the need to drive with care and not at excessive speed."

Referring to Mr and Mrs Gossedge's family, he added: "It's something that they will never fully recover from. For them, it's a life sentence."

Coyles was also banned from driving for five years.

Speaking after the sentencing, Det Sgt Paul Lightowler of West Yorkshire Police’s Major Collision Enquiry Team said: “I am pleased at the outcome of this case and Thomas Coyles will now spend a significant period of time behind bars to reflect on his actions.”

“I hope this sentence sends a strong message out on the consequences of driving dangerously, though no sentence imposed by the courts can ever reflect the loss experienced by Mr and Mrs Gossedge’s family and friends, or compensate for the injuries caused to others.”