Three men have today been jailed for their part in a collision in which a mother lost her 16-month-old son and husband.
A 22-year-old woman also lost her parents and her three-year-old daughter was left critically injured and in hospital for over two months, fighting for her life.
The collision destroyed the lives of two families who were in the car, and today Elliott Bower, Declan Bower and Mason Cartledge appeared before Doncaster Crown Court where they were collectively jailed for over 27-years.
On Friday 9 November 2018, specially trained officers were in the Drakehouse area of Sheffield, looking for a stolen VW Golf, that Declan and Elliott Bower were suspected of driving. The two men were wanted for a number of serious offences and so when a black VW Golf R matching the description of the stolen car was seen at around 8.50pm that evening on Mather Road, a marked police car began following it.
The stolen vehicle failed to stop for officers, while travelling along the Sheffield Parkway, Parkway Markets and on to Handsworth Road, during a pursuit that evening. During this, the Golf collided with a VW Touran people carrier on Main Road, Darnall.
Inside the Touran were seven people from two families, who were just moments away from their home after enjoying a day trip to London. Four passengers were killed while the three surviving passengers were left critically injured, requiring immediate medical intervention at hospital.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil Etheridge, the officer in charge of the investigation, said: “Immediately after the collision, the driver, Elliott Bower, 18 at the time, and Mason Cartledge the front seat passenger, who was 17 at the time, both tried to flee the scene but were detained by firearms officers.
“Declan Bower, 23, was detained in the car after being found smoking in the back, seemingly undeterred by what had just happened. All three men were taken to hospital with injuries sustained in the collision.
“Despite the best efforts of all those at the scene, including South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service and the Hazardous Area Response Team, four people were sadly pronounced dead.”
Husband and wife Vlasta Dunova, 41, and Miroslav Duna, 50, were both pronounced dead at the scene.
Their 22-year-old daughter, Nikola Dunova, was taken to hospital with a traumatic brain injury and continues to receive ongoing medical support.
Nikola’s daughter, Livia Matova, aged three, remained in hospital for over two months and initial prognosis from medical staff was that she would never recover. She is thankfully now back at home with her mother, however the full extent her injuries have had on her cognitive development will not be apparent for a number of years.
Adnan Ashraf, 35, the driver of the Touran, was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife, 31-year-old Erika Kroscenova, suffered serious injuries. On finding out her husband and baby boy, Muhammed Usman Bin Adnan, had both died in the collision, the mental trauma she suffered caused her to lose the ability to speak.
DCI Etheridge continued: “All three have shown little to no remorse for their reckless and selfish actions on that Friday night, which destroyed the lives of two families and prevented a mother from ever hearing her son call her mummy."
At an earlier hearing, all three defendants pleaded guilty to the following offences and were today (Monday 28 January) jailed:
Elliott Bower, now 19, of Harborough Avenue, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving, three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and possession of cannabis. Today he also entered a guilty plea to failing to surrender to bail. He was jailed for a total of 11 years and six months and banned from driving for a decade.
Declan Bower, 23, also of Harborough Avenue, Sheffield, entered guilty pleas to aggravated vehicle taking, death caused by an accident with aggravating factors, two counts of driving while disqualified, two counts of driving without insurance, possession of a bladed article and possession of cannabis. He was jailed for a total of seven years and ten months and banned from driving for seven years.
Mason Cartledge, now 18, of Severnside Place, Sheffield, entered guilty pleas to aggravated vehicle taking and death caused by an accident with aggravating factors, as well as possession of cannabis. He was jailed for a total of seven years and ten months and banned from driving for five years.
DCI Etheridge continued: “All three have shown little to no remorse for their reckless and selfish actions on that Friday night, which destroyed the lives of two families and prevented a mother from ever hearing her son call her mummy.
“Elliott Bower, as the driver, placed other road users in a constant state of danger that night. The weather was absolutely treacherous and at times he was travelling at over 100mph. The standard of driving displayed by Elliott, fell well below that expected by the road users of South Yorkshire.
“Both Elliott and Declan Bower had been wanted for some time and both clearly thought they were above the law. It wasn’t only officers who wanted to see them brought to justice, their actions on that evening affected the entire city of Sheffield and I’m pleased they have now been jailed for a significant length of time.
“Several other people, arrested as a result of my teams enquires remain under investigation in connection with assisting offenders during the time that all three men decided to evade the police.
“My thoughts are today with everyone who was affected by what happened, particularly the victim’s families, and I only hope that they can get some sense of closure in seeing the three men jailed today. While the physical scars from the injuries have thankfully healed, they will all still require ongoing medical support for a considerable time, such was the seriousness of the injuries that they sustained. However, the mental and heart-felt trauma of losing loved ones will never heal.
“I’d also like to extend my thanks to the local community, for their patience and support throughout our investigation, especially to those members of the public that assisted the firearms officers with administering immediate first aid and support to the victims until ambulances arrived.”
The case was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct at the time and South Yorkshire Police continue to assist them as their investigation into the collision continues.
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