Drunk father jailed for manslaughter of disabled son in motorway crash

Callum Rycroft , 12, had no speed awareness due to his disability and ‘should have been under the protection of his father’

Athena Stavrou
Monday 06 November 2023 17:19 GMT
<p>Callum Rycroft, 12, from Leeds, who was killed while walking on the M62</p>

Callum Rycroft, 12, from Leeds, who was killed while walking on the M62

A father whose disabled 12-year-old son was killed while trying to run across the M62 has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Matthew Rycroft, 37, was driving drunk on the motorway before he crashed his car on a slip road with his son Callum Rycroft also in the vehicle, said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Callum was killed after being hit by a car while attempting to cross between junctions 25 and 26 of the M62 at about 9.50pm on 5 August.

The CPS said Callum had no speed awareness due to his disability and “should have been under the protection of his father”.

At Leeds Crown Court on Monday, Rycroft was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, dangerous driving, and failing to provide a specimen in September.

The court was told how on Saturday, 5 August, Matthew Rycroft had been drinking alcohol throughout the day in Huddersfield

Rycroft was also been banned from driving for 9 years and 7 months.

Rycroft, of Nowell View, Leeds admitted driving an Audi Q5 dangerously on the day of the crash between Paddock Cricket Club, Huddersfield and Hartshead Moor services.

Rycroft had visited his parents in Huddersfield with Callum and had been drinking throughout the day, a CPS spokesperson said in September.

The incident took place on the M62 motorway

They added that Rycroft’s parents urged him not to drive and offered him a place to stay overnight, but he refused and drove away.

“His parents called him and urged him to stop driving, but he paid no heed,” the CPS said.

“Callum was heard in the background saying ‘Dad … won’t stop’. They also tried to follow him, but Rycroft ignored them, and his Audi was seen driving erratically in Huddersfield, before joining the M62 at junction 25.”

Witnesses reported seeing Rycroft swerve across lanes on the motorway before colliding with a crash barrier, the CPS said.

Rycroft managed to exit the motorway at Hartshead Moor services, where he failed to negotiate a sharp bend on the slip road before hitting the kerb and overturning the vehicle.

The CPS said: “Rycroft and Callum then began to walk toward the main carriageway.

“Callum called his mother, and dialled 999, but Rycroft told him to end the call. They were seen to cross the motorway to the central reservation, and then for an unknown reason tried to run back.”

Callum was struck by an oncoming vehicle and died instantly.

Callum was described as a happy boy who “loved life”

In a victim personal statement submitted to the court, Callum’s mother Claire Bancroft described the special bond they shared and the unique character of Callum, who was born with spina bifida and diagnosed with autism at the age of four.

“Callum like any other child should have had the opportunity to grow up and go to college. He was only 12, he had his whole life ahead of him. I saw a bright future for Callum, I just know he would have achieved anything, and I am certain he would have got a good job, he would have been so good with anything practical,” Ms Bancroft said.

“What makes matters worse, if that could be possible, is that my children have lost their dad as well as their brother and they know Callum is not here because of their dad. Matt has torn the family apart, he has hurt a lot of people, but mostly he has let Callum down, all because of his selfishness.”

Callum was hit by a Toyota C-HR and died instantly

In a further tribute to her son, she said: “Our family are devastated at the loss of Callum. He had such a big presence; we miss everything about him. He was so happy and he loved life. He was loved by everyone and we will miss him forever, he will never be forgotten.”

A linked investigation by the Major Collision Enquiry Team remains ongoing. The driver of the Toyota C-HR that hit Callum, a 47-year-old man, remains on bail while enquiries continue.

Detective Chief Superintendent Sarah Jones, of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “This is a truly sad case. Matthew Rycroft should have been one of the people who Callum could trust most in the world to keep him safe. Tragically, Matthew ignored the pleas of his family and put himself and his son in danger and it was Callum who paid the ultimate price.

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