Speeding driver who abandoned his dead friend after horror car crash is jailed


Staff member
Oct 7, 2008

Dude on the left croaked.
A banned motorist killed one of his best friends in a high-speed road crash then staged a callous cover-up - so he would not have to 'suffer' with him.
Stephen Helm, 27, left ex-soldier Steven Ball's body after crashing a car through railings at up to 60mph while defying a road ban for a string of driving convictions.
When he realised 20-year-old Mr Ball could not be saved, Helm simply abandoned him at the roadside, a court heard.
He and two other friends then set fire to the wrecked vehicle to destroy any evidence linking them to the scene.
But inquiries revealed Helm was the driver and he gave himself up a week later, after the victim's mother made a public appeal for him to come forward.
Helm, of Bamber Bridge, Preston, was today starting an eight-year prison sentence after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
He was also banned from driving for ten years.
The tragedy occurred on New Year's Day after Helm, his younger brother Leslie, 22, Mr Ball and another friend, Andrew Walch, 20, had been out celebrating in pubs in Bamber Bridge before heading off to a party, Preston Crown Court was told.
Helm had been banned from driving at the time for dangerous driving and driving while disqualified. But he had bought a black Skoda Octavia car a few days earlier using a friend's name.
He was later spotted racing 'like an emergency vehicle' doing around twice the 30mph speed limit minutes before the fatal crash.
At 2am Helm failed to negotiate a left-hand bend near a roundabout and slewed off the road, ploughing into railings before careering down an embankment.
Helm and two of his passengers clambered out of the vehicle but when Mr Ball - who had been impaled on the railings - was pulled out of the wreckage they he saw he had suffered fatal head and chest injuries.
Tina Landale, prosecuting, said: 'If the car had been travelling at a reasonable speed, it would not have crashed through those railings and the fatal accident would not have happened.'
She added: 'Andrew Walch had been sitting next to Steven Ball in the back of the car. He must have realised Steven Ball was dead - it must have been obvious from his injuries.
'They did not stay at the scene but left, fleeing together. Before they left, they acted together to conceal the truth about what had happened.
'They must have decided there was nothing they could do for Steven and a decision was made - why should they suffer as well when he could not be brought back to life?'
Miss Landale said one of the men then set light to the car to destroy forensic evidence.
Walch dialled 999 but pretended to be a passer-by reporting the accident and was heard to say: 'There's been a car crash. He is bleeding a lot. I've got the guy in the recovery position but he is bleeding. I had to pull him out of it because the car...'
When the operator asked the caller's name, he replied: 'Anthony, er, Watson' and spelled out. the false surname. He then told the operator he had to leave to attend to a 'family emergency'.
The three men then went to the home of Leslie Helm's girlfriend to work out what to do next.
Police arrived at the scene to find the car ablaze and Mr Ball lying dead at the roadside.
Tests revealed the railings had penetrated his head and back and he had been killed instantaneously.
Police inquiries revealed Helm had been the driver and he gave himself up a week later after the appeal by Mr Ball's mother.
Leslie Helm was jailed for 26 months and Walch got two years for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Passing sentence, Judge Heather Lloyd said the case had been 'tragic and utterly devastating for Steven Ball's family.'
She added: 'The simple fact is none of you have expressed any genuine remorse, only remorse for the situations you find yourselves in. You have all lied repeatedly in a most hard-hearted way.'