Dangerous driver jailed after killing beloved Sheffield Wednesday fan and his dog in head-on crash on busy road
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During a September 9 hearing at Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Sarah Wright sent defendant Kwao Frimpong to begin a three-year sentence for his dangerous driving, that led to a head-on collision which caused the death of 66-year-old John Graham Cloke on March 9 last year.
She told Frimpong, of Pedley Close, Westfield: “This was not a momentary lapse of concentration, this was not momentary dangerous driving. It was a deliberate decision to drive at speed, and perform a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre on the wrong side of the road because you were late for work.”
Describing Frimpong’s conduct in the moments before the collision on Pleasley Road, Rotherham, Judge Wright continued: “You overtook three other cars, causing them to have to break...you positioned yourself in the opposite carriageway.”
“The evidence points to the fact that you were clearly in a hurry...other road users describe you driving at speed.”
The court was told how a witness following behind Mr Cloke’s car described being concerned about Frimpong’s driving and believed he was not in the right place on the road.
"It’s as though he was trying to squeeze into a space that wasn’t there,” the witness said in a statement.
A second witness in the car directly behind Mr Cloke’s, said in a statement that she witnessed Frimpong’s Mercedes A180 vehicle come across the carriageway, and thought ‘what the hell is he doing’.
“There was no time to swerve and I knew the car was going to hit me or the car in front and I slammed on the breaks,” she said.
Judge Wright said Mr Cloke was driving ‘sensibly’ and ‘appropriately’ in the correct carriageway when Frimpong hit Mr Cloke’s Mazda 3 vehicle head-on.
“He had no chance whatsoever of avoiding the collision,” added Judge Wright.
Prosecuting barrister, Ian Goldsack, said the emergency services were called to the scene following a call at around 7.52am that morning, but despite the best efforts of medics, they were unable to save Mr Cloke, or his dog, who was in the back of his car at the time of the collision.
Mr Goldsack told the court that Frimpong, aged 59, worked as a pharmacist at the Asda store on Doncaster Road, Rotherham and was on course to be late for his 8am shift at the time of the collision, which took place near to the entrance for Ulley Country Park.
In moving statements read to the court, Mr Cloke’s nephew and partner described him as a ‘loyal’ ‘kind’ ‘selfless’ and ‘unassuming’ man, who always put others first.
Mr Cloke’s nephew described how after the death of his father, Mr Cloke selflessly cared for both him, and his brother who were both children at the time; and they subsequently came to view him as a father figure.
He said Mr Cloke’s passionate following of Sheffield Wednesday led to him becoming a fan too; adding that taking his son to his first match at Hillsborough, and his brother’s recent wedding, were special family moments that had been taken away from them by Frimpong’s ‘stupid actions’.
Mr Cloke’s partner described how the beloved pensioner had recently beaten cancer and had also recovered well from a triple bypass; and with that behind them, the pair had both been looking forward to spending their retirement together.
Frimpong pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing.
Defending, Ian West, said he did not want any mitigation he advanced on Frimpong’s behalf to ‘undermine’ or ‘minimise’ the devastating impact the loss of Mr Cloke has had on his family and partner.
He said this was Frimpong’s first conviction, and said that while he could not support it in ‘good conscience,’ was required to advance Frimpong’s request for Judge Wright to consider suspending any custodial sentence passed.
Judge Wright rejected this request and jailed Frimpong for three years, and banned him from driving for three years, six months.