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Leon Clarke (23/04/1982) of Red Lane, Rochdale pleaded guilty to causing his son, Blake's death by careless driving, whilst over the limit for drugs and also uninsured.
On Friday 28 February 2020, Clarke collected his children from their grandmother’s home in Middleton and was making his way to his partner’s address in Stockport. Blake aged 8 and Mason aged 6 were both off school for the half term holidays. Clarke arrived to collect the children in his car which was not insured, and the tyres were below the legal limit.
The weather on that day was poor which affected the conditions of the motorway, many drivers reduced their speed to the conditions due to the heavy spray and standing water.
Whilst Clarke changed lanes his car went into an irreversible spin. The rear of his car collided with a Highways Iveco Tipper Van that was stationary on the hard shoulder. The collision caused extensive damage to the back of the car where Blake was sat.
Members of the public who witnessed the collision stopped and removed Blake from the damaged vehicle along with Mason who was sat in the front passenger seat.
Despite the best efforts of members of the public and Emergency Services , Blake sadly died from his injuries. Mason suffered from minor injuries along with the Highways worker, who was in the Tipper van at the time, they were both taken to hospital.
Leon Clarke provided a positive drug sample at the scene and was arrested.
During interview he admitted that the car was uninsured, he had recently bought the car but hadn’t checked the condition of the tyres. He also said he had taken cocaine the previous night but felt fit enough to drive. He recognised that the weather conditions were poor but said that he was travelling no more than 55-60 mph because the weather was that bad.
Our investigation showed that Leon Clarke was travelling at 76mph. He was found to be 13 times above the legal limit for the bi-product of cocaine – Benzoylecgonine, which suggested he had used cocaine more recently than stated in his interview.
Leon Clarke also suffered minor injuries during the collision
Police Sergeant Emma Kennedy from GMP's Serious Collision Investigation Unit 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 touching members of the public and the emergency services who tried to help on that day.
“On behalf of Blake’s family and GMP, I would like to thank the members of the public who stopped and provided first aid to Blake, along with Highways employees, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue, North West Ambulance Service, Air Ambulance and Manchester Royal Children’s hospital who all desperately tried to save Blake.
“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.”