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Man Jailed For Causing Death Of His Own Son In Car Accident While High On Cocaine

A Rochdale man has been jailed for causing the death of his 8-year-old son after crashing his vehicle while thirteen times over the drug driving limit.

Leon Clarke, 40, was jailed for four years for causing the death of his son
Leon Clarke, 40, was jailed for four years for causing the death of his son

40-year-old Leon Clarke of Red Lane, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to causing the death of his 8-year-old son Blake by careless driving while over the limit for drugs and also uninsured.

On Friday 28 February 2020, Clarke went to collect his children from their grandmother's home in Middleton before making his way to his partner's home in Stockport. Blake, 8, and Mason, 6, were both off school for the half-term holidays. Clarke was driving on the motorway in poor weather conditions with heavy spray and standing water when he attempted to change lanes and sent his vehicle into an irreversible spin, smashing into a Highways Iveco Tipper Van that was parked on the hard shoulder.

The brunt of the impact struck the back of the car where Blake was sitting.

Passing motorists who witnessed the crash stopped and pulled Blake and his younger brother from the wreckage. Despite the best efforts of the emergency services and members of the public, Blake tragically died from his injuries.

6-year-old Mason as well as the driver of the stationary Highways van were both taken to the hospital for treatment for minor injuries.

Leon Clarke told police that he had taken cocaine the previous evening but felt safe to drive, he also admitted that his car was uninsured and he had never checked the condition of the tyres (which were below the legal limit). Officers found that Clarke was 13 times over the legal limit for the bi-product of cocaine - Benzoylecgonine, which suggested he had used cocaine much more recently than he initially admitted to police.

Clarke, 40, was handed a four-year prison sentence.

Police Sergeant Emma Kennedy said: "Blake's death was entirely preventable.

"His two son's safety should have been at the forefront of his mind. Instead, he took cocaine in the hours leading up to collecting them from their grandmother. When he joined the motorway, he did not drive to the weather conditions and drove above the speed limit despite the surface water and spray. "The loss of Blake is not only felt by his family, but by his school friends. Blake should have been starting his journey at Secondary school this year. The devastation of Blake's death has affected everyone that loved and knew him. His death touched members of the public and the emergency services who tried to help on that day.

"This should be a reminder to any motorist who chooses to drive having taken drugs, for those who do not drive to the weather conditions, and for those people who drive with insufficient tread on their tyres. It can take all of these things, or even just one thing for a journey to end in tragedy - so please remember that your actions can have fatal consequences."

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