Man sentenced after fatal Whyteleafe hit and run
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Mitchell Locke, 26, of Bourne Park Close, Kenley, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment and disqualified from driving for 30 months for leaving the scene of a road traffic collision which resulted in the death of a pedestrian when he appeared at Guildford Crown Court yesterday (23 February).
Locke was at the wheel of his BMW 520 on the A22 in Whyteleafe at around 10 pm on Thursday, 9 January 2020 when he collided with 30-year-old pedestrian Matthew Berry from Warlingham. Matthew, who was recently married and was on his way home after an evening with work-mates, sadly died at the scene despite the efforts of the ambulance service.
Detectives from the Surrey & Sussex Serious Collision Investigation Unit were able to piece together CCTV footage and mobile phone data to chart Locke’s actions before and after the crash.
Crucially, detectives could see that not only did he not stop after hitting Matthew, he in fact drove past the scene twice, again failing to stop. Mobile phone records revealed that he made a number of phone calls in the aftermath, none of which were to the emergency services.
He did, however, call an acquaintance who owned a garage and was later captured on camera, shortly after the collision, leaving his damaged BMW outside the garage and calling a taxi. Locke evaded officers for over two days, before presenting himself at a police station on 12 January 2020, when he was arrested.
Before yesterday’s sentencing, Locke had pleaded guilty to intending to pervert the course of justice, failing to stop after a road traffic accident and failing to report a road traffic accident, for which he was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment.
He was sentenced to four months in prison after also pleading guilty to driving a motor vehicle dangerously after his car was found to have bald and under-inflated rear tyres and illegally tinted front side windows. Locke will also be disqualified from driving for 24 months after his release from prison and will need to pass an extended test to be able to drive again.
Investigating Officer, Detective Constable Greg Brown said: “Mitchell Locke was fully aware that he had been involved in a serious collision, and he left Matthew at the side of the road in urgent need of medical treatment. We were unable to establish why he did not remain at the scene of the collision, but it was clear that he had no intention to do so, and he quickly took steps to try and conceal his involvement. Thanks to modern technology, Locke left a significant digital footprint which meant that we were able to prove that he was driving the BMW at the time of the collision, together with his actions before and afterwards. I would like to add that Matthew’s family have shown immense dignity and composure throughout the investigation and court proceedings. Matthew was clearly much loved and is greatly missed by them”.
Matthew Berry’s family have said the following:
“We would like to thank the police for their tireless and thorough investigations undertaken and for their compassion and support during what has been such a desperately sad and difficult 14 months since the loss of Matthew. In addition, we are grateful to the barrister for the CPS for her efforts and time spent with us all. However, despite everyone’s best efforts, we remain concerned and surprised at the apparent leniency of the sentence given by the Judge yesterday, particularly in the light of the previous driving convictions of the defendant. We have lost the light in our family, Matthew was a much loved son, brother and husband. We remain heartbroken.”