A heartbroken mum has paid emotional tribute to her eight-year-old son whose dad caused his death by careless driving while uninsured and over the drug-drive limit has been jailed.
Leon Clarke, from Marple, was put in prison for four years after pleading guilty over the incident on the motorway in February 2020 in which his son Blake Consterdine Clarke lost his life.
Clarke, of Middlewood Walk, was over the drug-drive limit after taking cocaine the previous evening and his car had a problem with the tyres. The 40-year-old was also uninsured to drive.
In a heartfelt tribute Blake’s mum Vicky Consterdine Clarke said life without her son was “a continuous nightmare that I’m yet to wake from”. Police described Blake’s death as “entirely preventable”.
What did Blake’s mum say about her son’s death?
Blake’s mum Vicky paid emotional tribute to her son following Clarke’s jailing. In a statement released by the police on Tuesday (11 October) she said: “Blake was cheeky, he was the joker, he was popular, and he was very clever, he had a bright future. Blake was sensitive, affectionate, protective of Mason, his friends and me.
“He loved school, so much so he couldn’t wait to get back to school on that Monday. He loved his friends, which he had from nursery. He enjoyed street dance, computer games and Lego. Blake loved life and loved his family.
“Having been told by the hospital that Blake had died and seeing Mason with minor injuries. I couldn’t understand how one of my children was okay and the other was dead.
“On the day of Blake’s funeral, he was laying in his coffin. I knew this would be the last time I would see Blake, kiss him and touch his skin. I was screaming, shouting at him: ‘Please Blake, please wake up for mummy’.
“Blake and Mason didn’t get a choice or a chance that day after they left their nana’s, all the choices were made for them by their dad who they were both excited to see. He killed my precious Blake by the decisions he made on that day. My boys didn’t stand a chance.
“Now I live in a continuous nightmare that I’m yet to wake from. Mason has lost his best friend and I have lost my beautiful son, and the life and love I once had.”
What happened on the day of Blake’s death?
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said that on Friday 28 February 2020 Clarke collected his children from their grandmother’s home in Middleton and was making his way to his partner’s address in Stockport.
Blake, aged eight, and Mason, six, were both off school for the half-term holidays. Clarke arrived to collect the children in his car which was not insured, and the tyres were below the legal limit.
The weather and driving conditions on the motorway were poor and many drivers reduced their speed due to the heavy spray and standing water. When Clarke changed lanes his car went into an irreversible spin and the rear of it collided with an Iveco tipper van used by the highways service that was stationary on the hard shoulder. The collision caused extensive damage to the back of the car where Blake was sat.
Members of the public who saw what happened stopped and removed Blake from the damaged vehicle along with Mason, who was sat in the front passenger seat.
Despite the best efforts of the public and the emergency services, Blake died from his injuries. Mason suffered minor injuries along with a highways worker who was in the van at the time. They were both taken to hospital.
What happened after the collision?
Clarke provided a positive drug sample at the scene and was arrested. During his police interview he admitted that the car, which he had recently bought, was uninsured and he had not checked the condition of the tyres.
He also said he had taken cocaine the previous night but felt fit enough to drive. He recognised that the weather conditions were poor but said that he was travelling somewhere between 55 and 60 mph because the weather was that bad.
However, GMP said the police investigation showed that Clarke was travelling at 76mph at the time of the collision. He was found to be 13 times above the legal limit for benzoylecgonine, the by-product of cocaine.
What have the police said about the jail sentence?
Sergeant Emma Kennedy from GMP’s serious collision investigation unit said: “Blake’s death was entirely preventable. His two sons’ safety should have been at the forefront of his mind. Instead, he took cocaine in the hours leading up to collecting them from their grandmother. When he joined the motorway, he did not drive to the weather conditions and drove above the speed limit despite the surface water and spray.
“The loss of Blake is not only felt by his family, but by his school friends. Blake should have been starting his journey at secondary school this year. The devastation of Blake’s death has affected everyone that loved and knew him. His death touched members of the public and the emergency services who tried to help on that day.
“On behalf of Blake’s family and GMP, I would like to thank the members of the public who stopped and provided first aid to Blake, along with highways employees, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, the North West Ambulance Service, the air ambulance and Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital, who all desperately tried to save Blake.
“This should be a reminder to any motorist who chooses to drive having taken drugs, for those who do not drive to the weather conditions, and for those people who drive with insufficient tread on their tyres. It can take all of these things, or even just one thing for a journey to end in tragedy – so please remember that your actions can have fatal consequences.”