A popular chef was left to die by a hit-and-run motorist acting as an illegal taxi driver.
Tragic Rhys Davies fell asleep in a country lane on his way home, after drinking at his dad Jon’s pub, the Rose and Crown, on Southport Road, Ulnes Walton, following a shift there as a chef.
The thing I will never understand is how a man with children of his own could leave a fellow human being on his own to die, without stopping and trying to help.Michelle Lowe
John Murphy, 48, of Moor Lane, Croston, was returning from taking passengers to Manchester Airport – which he was not insured for – when he struck the Newcastle United fan on New Lane, Ulnes Walton, between 3.40am and 3.58am on August 10 last year.
The 21-year-old was dragged around 50m in the accident, but instead of stopping to help, tracks of radiator fluid showed Murphy did a U-turn, stopped near Rhys’ bleeding body, then drove away.
Rhys’ mum Michelle Lowe, from Coppull, said: “ I can accept that terrible accidents will happen, but Mr Murphy’s disregard for what he did is astonishing.
“The thing I will never understand is how a man with children of his own could leave a fellow human being on his own to die, without stopping and trying to help.
“No sentence is enough for a man like this.
“Rhys has left a massive hole in the lives of his family and friends.
“We remember Rhys with a smile because he was always such a happy person.”
The family will buy a Newcastle United short with Rhys 21 printed on each year to pay tribute to him,
Michelle, a lecturer in Criminological and Forensic Psychology at University of Bolton, attended Preston’s Sessions House court with his girlfriend Jess, and close relatives to see Murphy sentenced to 30 weeks in jail, and banned from the road for three years.
He admitted failing to stop after an accident, or report it, causing death by careless driving and driving without insurance.
Murphy, wearing a grey suit, cried in the dock as Michelle’s powerful victim impact statement was read to the court.
She said: “No parent should ever outlive their children. I’ve heard that said so many times but never understood what it really meant until I outlived my own child.
“In my dreams Rhys walks and laughs. When he visit he always arrives surrounded by a pack of dogs. Rhys loved dogs so it makes sense for my unconscious mind to bring me Rhys walking with dogs.
Prosecuting, Harry Pepper said a competent driver would have been able to see Rhys, as despite him wearing dark clothes, he was seen by three motorists before the collision.
He said: “The third, a Mr Johnson, braked as he thought there was a binbag in the road. He saw a person sat upright. He was described as snoring.
“ The police were contacted and arrived at 3.58am.”
But by then Rhys had already been struck.
Mr Pepper said: “The officer could see the man had serious injuries.
“The police officers were unable to find a pulse. Paramedics attended and confirmed he was deceased.”
The court heard debris from a Seat Alhambra was found at the scene and when officers went to visit the initial informants the next morning, they saw the defendant’s damaged car parked across the road. They saw it had a taxi type machine and cash inside.
Johnson came to the door and said: “ I know why you’re here. I hit someone this morning didn’t I? He’s dead, oh no.”
Defending, Nick Kennedy described the case as a “terrible tragedy.”
He said it was important to note it was a classic country lane that was in total darkness and said: “The last thing any driver going down that road would imagine was a person sitting in the roadway dressed in dark clothing and asleep.”
Judge Jonathan Gibson said: “It isn’t entirely clear why you failed to see Rhys. Having struck Rhys, you went a little further along the road and it’s clear did a U turn and turned back round. Whether you realised what you hit was a person or not, you certainly must have known about that after you turned round and saw what had happened. You didn’t stop. You drove home.”