'Trail of chaos and misery': Drunk driver injured child in head-on crash after stealing taxi

Graham Whitehead injured girl in head-on crash on Soothill Lane after stealing taxi.
Graham Whitehead injured girl in head-on crash on Soothill Lane after stealing taxi.

A drunk driver injured a child in a head-on crash after he stole a taxi and left a "trail of chaos and misery".

Graham Whitehead was locked up for 16 months after a court heard how he put lives in danger and caused two vehicles to be written off.

Leeds Crown Court heard the incident happened in Dewsbury and Batley on November 16 last year.

Dave Mackay, prosecuting, described how Whitehead was drunk and aggressive when a taxi arrived to pick him up from the Crown pub, Leeds Road, Dewsbury, at 8.30pm.

The defendant was arguing with a woman and had a pint glass in his hand.

He smashed the glass on the ground before getting into the taxi.

Read more: Murder trial date set for teenager accused of stabbing man to death in Chapeltown during Leeds West Indian Carnival weekend
Whitehead continued to be aggressive once inside the car and punched the dashboard several times.

The taxi driver tried to calm Whitehead during the journey to Chickenley.

At the end of the journey Whitehead said to the driver: "You do know you are not going to get paid?"

The driver got out and went to eject Whitehead from the taxi.

The defendant climbed into the driver's seat and drove off with the cab.

Mr Mackay said Whitehead crashed head-on into a car around three miles away on Soothill Lane, Batley.

Whitehead drove downhill at speed and the woman driving in the opposite direction was unable to get out of the way.

Read more: Mum suffered fractured eye socket in Ugg boot kick attack in Leeds village
Four people were in the car at the time, including a little girl.

The youngster banged her head in the collision.

The stolen car then struck the rear of a taxi which was parked close by.

Two of the vehicles had to be written due to the damage caused.

The woman was screaming as she got out of her car.

Whitehead approached her and asked her if she was alright before walking away.

He was covered in blood when police arrested him nearby.

Whitehead, of Hazel Drive, Chickenley, Dewsbury, refused to provide a blood specimen to test if he was over the drink-drive limit.

He was interviewed about the incident but said he could not recall the events because he was so drunk.

The defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, failing to provide a blood specimen, driving without a licence and having no insurance.

A victim statement was read to the court on behalf of the parents of the injured girl.

They described how she is now afraid to travel in cars and is "scared in case that bad man who stole the taxi comes and finds her."

Whitehead has previous convictions for drink-related offending.

Read more: Apprentice mechanic put lives in danger during "chilling" police chase
He has five drink-driving convictions

Katherine Robinson, mitigating, said: "He expresses genuine remorse.

"When he is in drink he is a totally different person."

Miss Robinson said Whitehead pleaded guilty to the offences at an early stage and was seeking help to tackle his problems with alcohol.

Jailing Whitehead, Judge Simon Phillips, QC, said: "You selfishly got into this vehicle when you had no right to take it and left this trail of chaos and misery.

"You have no thought for the safety of yourself or for others when you are in drink."