A father has been sentenced to a decade behind bars for manslaughter after his autistic son was killed when they fled the scene of a crash across a busy motorway.
Callum Rycroft, 12, was hit by a car while he tried to run across the M62 motorway with his father Matthew Rycroft – a man described as “the person he trusted the most”.
Leeds Crown Court heard Rycroft, 37, had been drink-driving on 5 August when he hit a barrier and overturned his Audi Q5 on the slip road to Hartsmead Moor Services, near Huddersfield.
Rycroft and Callum, who had been in the passenger seat, left the vehicle and could be seen on CCTV walking along the stretch of motorway for almost a mile before crossing to the central reservation.
At one point, the court heard, Rycroft was seen falling over and helped up by his son.
Rycroft then carried on to the hard shoulder, followed by Callum, who was then hit by a vehicle.
He kept walking over to the other side, without looking back for his son, and was found hiding in a bush 400 yards away by police.
Rycroft was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison, after previously admitting manslaughter, dangerous driving, and failing to provide a specimen.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Callum had no speed awareness, due to his disability.
Claire Bancroft, the boy’s mother who has since left Rycroft over the incident, said Callum “would follow” his father “everywhere”, and “worshipped the ground he walked on”.
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August: 12-year-old boy killed on M62 ‘I can’t forgive him’
In a victim impact statement read out in court, Ms Bancroft said: “Callum was with Matt – someone he trusted the most. Someone who should have kept him safe and brought him home.
“Callum died as a result of Matt’s actions – something I can’t forgive him for.”
She added Callum was born with spina bifida, and diagnosed with autism at the age of four.
“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.
“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.”
Image: Callum Rycroft Parents asked him to stay over – but Rycroft refused
The court was told Rycroft had been to visit his parents in Huddersfield with Callum, then cut the grass at a local cricket club, and began to drink and socialise in the clubhouse.
CCTV footage showed Rycroft being “demonstrably unsteady on his feet” as he left around 9.10pm, with the court hearing Rycroft’s father thought his son was not fit to drive and offered to let him stay for the night – but Rycroft declined.
His parents called him to tell him to stop, the court was told, and could hear Callum crying saying his dad wouldn’t stop.
Matthew Harding, mitigating, said there was “so much that was good about Matthew Rycroft’s relationship with Callum”.
“He will have to live with the utterly tragic consequences of his actions that night for the rest of his life,” he told the court.
Rycroft appeared on a video link from prison, and was seen crying as he sat with his head bowed.
Sentencing Rycroft, Judge Guy Kearl KC, the Recorder of Leeds, said: “Not content with placing yourself, Callum and other road users in danger by the standard of your driving, you attempted to escape the scene by running away.
“You deliberately placed Callum in a situation where his chances of another safe crossing were slim at best.”