A man has been jailed for four years for causing the death of his son by dangerous driving.
Leon Clarke, 40, pleaded guilty to causing the tragic death of his eight-year-old son Blake.
Clarke had been driving over the limit for drugs, in an uninsured car, and on tyres that were below the legal limit.
He was then speeding at 76mph in poor weather conditions, with both of his sons (Blake, eight and Mason, six) in the car, when his vehicle went into a spin and collided with a Highways van parked on the hard shoulder on Friday 28 February 2020.
In a tribute to Blake, his mother Vicky 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 lay 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 nanas, all the choices were made for them by their dad who they were both excited to see. 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.”
On that tragic day, Clarke had collected his children from their grandmother’s home in Middleton and was making his way to his partner’s address in Stockport.
His car went into an irreversible spin and the rear of it collided with a Highways Iveco Tipper Van – Blake was sitting in the back of the car.
Members of the public pulled Blake and his brother Mason from the car and desperately tried to save the boy’s life.
But despite their efforts, and those of the emergency services, he died from his injuries.
Mason and the Highways worker were both taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Leon Clarke provided a positive drug sample at the scene and was arrested.
He was found to be 13 times above the legal limit for the bi-product of cocaine, Benzoylecgonine – a much higher quantity than his interview suggested, when he said he had taken cocaine the previous night but felt fit enough to drive.
Police Sergeant Emma Kennedy from GMP’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit said: “Blake’s death was entirely preventable.
“His two son’s 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 touching 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, North West Ambulance Service, 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.”
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”