A Lancashire rugby player was killed after being struck by a takeaway delivery man following a day in the pub with friends, a court heard.
Jordan Welsby, 26, was hit by Faisal Yasin’s Vauxhall Corsa just moments after he sent Snapchat messages to his girlfriend while behind the wheel of his car. The hearing was told how Mr Welsby had been out drinking with teammates on Boxing Day 2020 to mark the festive period.
He was crossing Prescot Road in St Helens, near to the Eccleston Arms pub, when he was stuck by Yasin’s vehicle at around 11pm. Prosecutor Kate Morley said the Blackbrook ARLFC half back, who also represented Great Britain and Lancashire at amateur level, was “catapulted into the air” as a result of the collision.
He suffered “catastrophic” head injuries and was rushed to Aintree Hospital before being transferred into intensive care unit at the Walton Centre, where he died nearly a week later on New Year’s Eve.
Yasin, of Wensley Way in Rochdale, had been driving within the 30mph speed limit at the time. Weather conditions were also said to have been “extremely poor” at the time due to Storm Bella, which brought “high winds and heavy rainfall”.
But the now 25-year-old drove “directly into” Mr Welsby without braking beforehand or attempting any evasive manoeuvre. When police checked his mobile phone, they found that he had been Snapchatting with his then partner while driving, the ECHO reports.
This included sending one message within one minute of the crash occurring. Yasin had received a reply in the intervening period, which went unopened.
Members of the public who rushed to help heard him saying: “I didn’t see him. I didn’t see him.”
Yasin has one previous conviction for two offences of obstructing police and driving without insurance following an incident in August 2020, which saw him refuse to give his details to officers after being stopped for having a defective rear light. He then received a further three penalty points when he was pulled over again on December 31, the day Mr Welsby died, for driving a car which had a defective tyre.
Neelan Gomersall, defending, told the court that her client had been en route to deliver a food order for his father’s business, which was based on Duke Street in St Helens town centre, at the time of the fatal accident while back home from university over the Christmas holidays. He later went on to complete his studies in chemical engineering and obtain full-time employment.
Ms Gomersall added: “He simply cannot account for why he did not see him – he simply didn’t. This can be described as a collision which was caused by a momentary loss of concentration.
“He was sociable, hard-working and motivated. The person who stands before the court today is depressed and wracked with guilt.”
She also recited the contents of a letter which Yasin – who was said to be a carer to his parents – wrote to the court, saying: “There has not been a day where I have not thought about this catastrophic event. I am so sorry that I have taken someone you loved from you – I will live with the regret for the rest of my life.”
Yasin, who was seen wiping tears away and sat with his head bowed during the hearing, admitted causing death by careless driving. He looked up to the ceiling of the dock as he was jailed for 10 months and banned from the roads for 15 months, while members of both his and Mr Welsby’s families tearfully embraced in the public gallery.
Sentencing, Judge Neil Flewitt KC described the deceased as a “fine young man whose life was cut cruelly short”. He added: “I recognise that the grief will remain long after whatever sentence I impose today.
“I am acutely aware that nothing I can say or do will lessen their suffering. I recognise that your life too has changed irreversibly following the events of December 26 2020 – at least in your case, there is some opportunity for recovery.
“He was and should have been visible to you. For some reason, you simply did not see him.
“He fought bravely for several days, but died on December 31. There are two goods reasons, in my view, why you did not see him.
“The first relates to your mobile telephone usage. In the short journey from where you were working to where this collision took place, you were using your mobile phone to exchange Snapchat messages with your then girlfriend.
“The picture I have is that, during that journey, you were engaged in a conversation with your girlfriend and that must have distracted you. Whether, towards the end, you were distracted by the arrival of these messages or whether you were distracted by the expectation of these messages arriving, I am entirely satisfied that they contributed to your loss of focus and your lack of attention.
“The other factor, in my view, which contributed to this collision was your speed. It is right that you were not driving in excess of the speed limit, but that speed limit is a maximum in ideal conditions – and these were far from ideal conditions.
“There was heavy rain and heavy winds, and you should have been driving more slowly. You should have been driving at a speed which would allow you to see hazards ahead and think and stop in time.
“There was undoubtedly sufficient time to see Jordan Welsby and stop, and you didn’t. The only conclusion one can draw is that you were distracted by your mobile telephone.
“On December 31, the significance of which is that is the day on which Jordan Welsby died, you were again driving. You were clearly not deterred by what had happened a few days earlier – you were driving a vehicle with a defective tyre.
“I entirely accept that your remorse is genuine. You are still a relatively young man.
“There has been a significant, and in my view, an entirely unacceptable delay in pursuing these proceedings. It is unfair to you, and it is unfair to Jordan Welsby’s family, that these proceedings have taken so long to come to their final conclusion.
“That is a factor I have to take into account in your favour. You have had a long period of uncertainty.
“I also take into account the way you have conducted yourself in the intervening period. With the exception of driving with a defective tyre, you have conducted yourself impressively and secured well paid employment.
“If it had not been for the use of the mobile phone, I should have suspended this sentence. But it is important that I send a significant deterrent to people who are minded to drive vehicles and put themselves at risk of causing a collision and causing serious injury or even death.”
Detective Sergeant Kurt Timpson, lead investigating officer for Merseyside Police’s serious collision investigation unit, said following the sentencing: “My thoughts and that of my team remain with Jordan’s family and his girlfriend, who we have supported throughout this case. Death on the roads is sudden, traumatic and causes so much pain and suffering for those left behind.
“Merseyside Police is committed to working in partnership with other agencies, charities and groups to prevent serious injury and loss of life on our roads. We support the international aim of Vision Zero, an ethos where we want to see the end to injury and death on the roads in our communities.
“Each of us has a responsibility as we work towards this. The use of the roads should be treated with care and respect and we will continue to challenge, educate or prosecute offenders for the benefit of all road users.”