Dashcam footage traces hit-and-run driver who left family terrified

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A hit-and-run van driver who fled from a crash which left three young children terrified in their damaged car has been jailed.

Carlisle's Rickergate Magistrates' Court heard how the accident on the A685 near Brough was caused by 24-year-old Michael Lee Richardson, who had committed a similar offence in March of last year.

The defendant, of Melbrecks Mews, Kirkby Stephen, admitted careless driving, failing to stop after an accident, and failing to report it.

Prosecutor Peter Kelly said the accident happened at about 5.30pm on July 22 as a woman called Joanne Thompson was driving her Ford Focus on the A685, on her way to join the A66.

For the children, it must have been an incredibly scary situation

In the car at the time were her eight and 10, and their six-year-old friend.

As she approached the turning for the A66 bypass, Mrs Thompson slowed down to let a couple walking a dog pass – but then heard a crunch as the defendant's van hit.

“I thought he was going to stop,” Mrs Thompson told police.

“But he just drove off. Fortunately, another motorist who did stop handed over footage from his in-car dashcam to the police and that was how Richardson was traced.

Mr Kelly outlined how as a result of the accident Mrs Thompson was left suffering from headaches for a week, which were bad enough for her to need pain killers. Her doctor had also said she would need physiotherapy for neck and shoulder pain.

When questioned by police, Richardson said he had panicked and that was why he had driven away from the scene of the accident.

He admitted that he thought he had got away with it, and admitted his driving had been bad that day. Mr Kelly said that had the defendant stayed at the scene he would have been routinely breath tested.

“He has a drink driving conviction from 2012,” said the prosecutor.

“But police were unable to speak to him at the relevant time. He also committed a similar offence [to the one before the court this week], failing to stop after an accident, and driving without due care and attention, in March 2016.”

Sara Budniak, for Richardson, said the defendant was full of remorse and he wanted to apologise to the victim.

“He's incredibly grateful that it wasn't more serious,” said the lawyer. “For the children, it must have been an incredibly scary situation.”

She said Richardson would have eventually come clean and his girlfriend – in court to support him – had urged him to hand himself in to police.

Magistrates imposed the jail term, along with a year's driving ban, and a £85 victim surcharge and prosecution costs of the same amount.

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