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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Robyn Vinter North of England correspondent

Father of 12-year-old boy killed by car on M62 pleads guilty to manslaughter

A photo of Callum Rycroft on a walking path making a thumbs-up sign
Callum Rycroft, 12, ‘paid the ultimate price for his father’s careless and criminal actions’, said the CPS. Photograph: Family handout/West Yorkshire Police/PA

A father has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after his 12-year-old son was killed by a car on the motorway last month.

Callum Rycroft “paid the ultimate price” on 5 August when attempting to cross the motorway after a crash caused by his father Matthew Rycroft, 36, who had been drinking all day.

Appearing via video link from custody, Rycroft pleaded guilty to a further two charges of dangerous driving and failing to supply a specimen of blood, during the short hearing at Leeds crown court.

Rycroft, from Leeds, had spent all day drinking at his parents’ house in Huddersfield when he chose to drive home with Callum, despite pleas not to get in his Audi Q5.

His parents offered them a place to stay and, when Rycroft refused and left with his son, followed him and called him on the phone, later reporting hearing Callum in the background of the call saying: “Dad … won’t stop.”

Witnesses described seeing Rycroft driving erratically in Huddersfield and after reaching the M62, swerving across lanes and colliding with a crash barrier. He then later failed to negotiate a sharp bend on the slip road for Hartshead services, near Cleckheaton, and overturned the car.

Rycroft and Callum then made their way towards the carriageway, when the boy first called his mother and then 999 but was told to end the call by Rycroft.

They were seen to cross the motorway to the central reservation, and then for an unknown reason tried to run back, when Callum was struck by an oncoming Toyota C-HR and died instantly.

Rycroft was initially charged with causing or allowing the death of a child but the charge was amended to manslaughter.

Callum was autistic and so had no speed awareness and should have been under his father’s protection, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Tom Neofytou from the CPS said: “This is an absolutely tragic incident involving the death of a 12-year-old boy.

“His father’s insistence on driving whilst under the influence of alcohol is beyond comprehension. Rycroft continued to drive despite his parents’ best efforts to stop him. His decision to leave the scene of the crash and attempt to cross the motorway whilst responsible for a young boy was reckless folly.

“Callum paid the ultimate price for his father’s careless and criminal actions, and the rest of his family are left to mourn his loss. Our deepest sympathies remain with them.”

Rycroft will be sentenced at a later date.

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