Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Parents of a young man from Crewe have spoken of how their lives have ‘changed forever’ following the death of their son as the man who killed him was jailed. Josh Spender, 23, died in hospital on November 5 last year after he was struck by a white Ford Transit van at about 5.30pm while he was walking on a pedestrian crossing near McDonald’s on Macon Way.

Market Drayton man William Bratton, 30, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, causing death while driving when he was disqualified and causing death while driving uninsured. He was sentenced to 75 months in prison at Chester Crown Court on Friday (May 20) and was also disqualified from driving for 12 years and seven months.

During the hearing, the court heard statements from Josh’s mum Sarah Shenton and dad Stephen Spender. Both talked about how life had not been the same since their son was taken from them.

READ MORE: ‘He was the light of our lives’ say family of man, 24, killed in Rode Heath crash

Mrs Shenton spoke of her last phone call with Josh on the day of his death. She said he always called when he was going to be late home.

She said: “I ended the call with ‘I love you’ and he always said it back, even if he was overheard saying it, he never minded. He loved his mum. I look at my phone and I see his name in my calls log and think ‘I’ll never hear his voice again’.

“Our lives were broken in a matter of two hours. The police came round to say Josh had been hit. We thought someone had punched him but in a very short space of time we realized by the urgency of police getting us to the hospital on blue lights that this was serious.

“I’m not sure how long it took to get to the hospital as it seemed like hours. We were desperate to see Josh and see if he was OK. He wasn’t, he had died. I remember feeling like I was having an out-of-body experience. I could not take in what had happened. “

Three months before Josh had died, he had been working at Leighton Hospital. Mrs Shenton said many of the people who tried to save him had known him.

She thanked people at the hospital and the Crewe community for their support. When his funeral took place, more than 200 people at the hospital came out to watch as the funeral procession drove past.

Mrs Shenton said: “I never used to think about my own death but I do now. I wonder if he will be the first person I see when I died. I hope he’s waiting for me and we can be reunited.

“I go to bed at night and the images of him lying in his coffin still haunt me and will forever. I do not think I am the same person I was before Josh died. I think a lot of things are pointless now including me job.



Joshua Spender, 23, was killed in a hit-and-run on Macon Way, Crewe
Joshua Spender, 23, died after a collision on Macon Way, Crewe

“Nothing compares to losing a child. Everyday tasks are mundane. I feel hopeless and sad. Even food shopping is a problem because I’m no longer cooking for my son and I find it all pointless.

“People say time is a great healer and life goes on. My life goes on but without Josh.”

An emotional Mr Spender described November 5, 2021, as the day their lives ‘changed forever’. He said the news of his son’s death was something that will stay on his mind for the rest of his life.

He said. “The feelings of devastation can not be put into words – utter disbelief, total shock, overwhelming sadness, numb feeling, anger and the feeling of such helplessness are only a fraction of the emotions we suffered that night and continue to ever since.

“Having to tell my father that his grandson had been killed was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. My father was still grieving for my mother who sadly passed away only 22 months earlier.

“He is struggling to come to terms with Josh’s death. He turns the clock around on the mantelpiece because he says time goes too slow.”

He also spoke of how he and Josh would often go and watch Crewe Alex play. He added that he feels ‘robbed’ because he now can not do the things a dad does with his son, including helping him move into his first house, celebrating his wedding and looking after his children.

Mr Spender added: “I still find it very hard to go and watch Crewe Alex without Josh, despite being a regular for over 40 years. I miss his moans when we were playing badly, his hugs and high fives when we scored and his strange way of eating a pie at half time. The empty seat next to me reminds me every single home match. “

Peter Hussey, prosecuting, spoke of Bratton’s movements as described by witnesses and caught on CCTV during that day. He was first filmed at Bargain Booze on Wilding Street, off Hungerford Road.

Bratton, who was disqualified from driving at the time, then drove onto Hungerford Road before turning into a residential estate. Witnesses reported seeing a man in a van asking them ‘how the f *** do you get out of this estate’.

Bratton drove out of the estate onto Hungerford Road before turning onto Macon Way and to the scene of the collision. Witnesses on Macon Way saw the lights on the crossing were red and Josh was walking across the road when Bratton’s van approached.

They judged his speed to have been approximately 40mph before Bratton hit Josh. The 23-year-old landed on the footpath and Bratton failed to stop.

Despite the incident, Bratton then went out for a meal with his partner that night. The court heard he was involved in another crash at which he also failed to stop.



William Bratton
William Bratton

Bratton was identified as the driver of the van and found at his address in Market Drayton on November 7. He first tried to convince police that his name was ‘John Johnson’ but was recognized by one of the officers who had seen his picture.

Robert Edwards, mitigating, said Bratton claimed he did not see the red light as he was approaching the crossing. He said Bratton had told him he was remorseful but admitted it had come late, with the guilty plea being made just days before the trial was due to start.

Mr Edwards said Bratton was ‘resigned’ to a period of imprisonment. He added: “No sentence which this court can impose can bring the degree of comfort to the family that they deserve.

“Equally, nothing Mr Bratton can do today will answer the questions which they must have, some of which we heard during their moving statements.”

Bratton has multiple convictions on his record, including past driving offenses. These include drink driving, drunk driving and aggravated vehicle taking.

Judge Steven Everett, Chester’s recorder, reprimanded Bratton for his attitude toward the case, saying he had more remorse for himself than for Joshua and his family. At one point, Bratton shook his head while Mr Everett was talking, which led to the judge saying: “Do not shake your head at me.”

Passing his sentence, Mr Everett said: “You are a man who will say whatever you think will do you best without being able to see, and have the intelligence to see, how badly it shows you.

“I make the point that no sentence I pass could ever bring back that young man or ever give comfort to his parents and family. I recognize that entirely. I hope they will understand that I did something you did not and that is stick by the law. “

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