80mph Market Drayton death crash driver is jailed as 'unduly lenient' sentence appealed

By Rob Smith | Market Drayton | Crime | Published:

A 24-year-old driver from Market Drayton whose speeding caused the death of his best friend has been jailed on appeal.

Stephen Graham Whilde, of Newcastle Road,admitted causing the death of William Bye, also 24, by dangerous driving.

In November last year he got a two-year suspended jail term at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

But the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC, referred his case to London’s Appeal Court arguing he should have been locked up.

Yesterday senior judges agreed and jailed bin lorry driver Whilde for three years.

Crash victim Will Bye

Whilde was behind the wheel of his Honda Civic on November 27, 2016, with Mr Bye, of Red Barn Road, Market Drayton, in the passenger seat.

He was driving at nearly 80mph on the 60mph A529, near Market Drayton, when he lost control on a right-hand bend and the car left the road.

The vehicle collided with fencing and a hedgerow and Mr Bye suffered fatal head injuries, Lady Justice Sharp told the court.


The two men had known each other for about nine years and were best friends, said the judge.

Whilde accepted he had driven too fast for the road conditions. He pleaded guilty on the basis that his passenger “had not encouraged him to drive too fast” and he was “not racing or engaging in any competitive event”.

Whilde had no previous convictions and has had difficulties with depression, the court heard.

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A probation officer’s report said he felt “genuine heartfelt remorse” for what he had done.

Duncan Atkinson QC, on behalf of the Solicitor General, argued that Whilde should have been jailed.

He was driving too fast, it was a “seriously dangerous manoeuvre” and it was “competitive driving akin to racing”, he claimed.

Whilde was “clearly showing off to his friend” and the bad driving was “persistent and deliberate”, he said.

Debra White, for Whilde, said that, while the sentence might be viewed as soft, it was not too soft.

But Lady Justice Sharp said: “In our view, however, the sentence was unduly lenient.”

“This was a case where Whilde drove on a right-hand bend on a two-lane country road on a dark night at nearly 80mph.”

It was “deliberate bad driving at excessive speed”, added the judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Garnham and Judge Wendy Joseph QC.

She ordered Whilde to go to Shrewsbury Police Station by 4pm yesterday to begin his jail term.

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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