Harrogate magistrates

Banned driver in court following theft of van and serious collision

26 January 2017

A man appeared at court on Tuesday 24 January 2017 charged with a string of offences including dangerous driving, after causing a serious road traffic collision on the A59 crossroads with the B6451 in Harrogate on the evening of Sunday 22 January 2017.

Harrogate Magistrates heard that 23-year-old Ethan Wells-Smith of Darley, Harrogate, who was already banned from driving, had stolen a Mercedes Sprinter van from a property in Darley, earlier that evening.

Whilst consuming two cans of beer behind the wheel and attempting to retrieve his mobile phone, which had fallen into the van’s foot well, Wells-Smith crashed the van into two vehicles – a Toyota Corolla and an Isuzu D-Max, seriously injuring the drivers and passengers of both vehicles.

Wells-Smith, who was unhurt in the collision, then left the vehicle and the scene of the crash, making no attempt to call emergency services for help. Thanks to eagle-eyed witnesses who saw the direction he ran in, officers located and arrested him five minutes later.

The 47-year male driver of the Corolla was taken to Leeds General Hospital with broken ribs, sternum and cheek bone. The 72-year-old driver of the Isuzu was taken to Harrogate District Hospital with lacerations to his head and tongue and internal bleeding. His 69-year-old passenger suffered cuts to her shins. All have since been discharged from hospital.

After initially denying he was behind the wheel of the van, Wells-Smith pleaded guilty to driving whilst over the prescribed limit for alcohol, driving whilst disqualified, causing injury due to dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking and burglary.

He was remanded into custody and is due to appear at York Crown Court on 22 February 2017 for sentencing.


Detective Constable Quita Passmore of the Harrogate Investigation Hub said: This is a completely shocking crime. Wells-Smith displayed absolutely no regard for the safety of anyone on the road that evening. His behaviour was completely selfish, not only with his actions leading up to the collision, but the fact he tried to evade being caught, leaving the scene of the crash without any regard to the people he caused injury to.

We wish that the victims of this collision a speedy recovery and hope the fact that Wells-Smith has been dealt with so swiftly by the courts provides some element of comfort to them.

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