David Mellor, of Bank End Road, Worsbrough Dale, was employed by Barnsley-based City Freight Services and held the HGV to ransom, claiming he was owed two-and-a-half weeks’ wages.
It led to a ‘joyriding rampage’ through Barnsley, ultimately resulting in the death of 58-year-old Jacqueline Wileman who was walking on a path along Common Road when the speeding HGV - which was being driven by unlicensed Karn Hill and carrying Wayne Carroll, Alan Mawhinney and Mellor - failed to negotiate a left-hand corner and careered into her.
The Crown Prosecution Service said that Mellor, 48, had clocked up dozens of offences and was being monitored by the Probation Service at the time of the incident, which took place on September 14 of last year.
All four men were convicted for causing death by dangerous driving and received between ten-and-a-half and 13 years in prison.
A review, which is part of a standard procedure when any serious offence is committed by someone under supervision, will take place and Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, spoke in Parliament on Tuesday about the matter.
She said: “It is residents in our communities, like mine in Barnsley East, that suffer when vital services like our probation system begin to fail.
“Perhaps nothing demonstrates that more than the case of my constituent Jacqueline Wileman.
“Last year, four men stole a HGV lorry and drove it around Barnsley, damaging cars, injuring pedestrians, nearly killing a man, and eventually crashing into a house, but not before hitting and killing Jacqueline near her home in Brierley.
“All four had existing criminal records, with nearly a hundred convictions between them. They had several convictions for driving offences and one (Carroll) had already been sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving.
“Two of the men had recently finished probation supervision. The one who stole the lorry (Mellor) had no driving licence and was, staggeringly, on probation at the time.
“It can be argued that these men should not have been on the streets and able to commit these tragic crimes in the first place and the lenient sentences handed down to them following Jackie’s death have led to calls being made by her brave family to scrap the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving to ensure they won’t be out in a few years to do so again - calls I wholeheartedly support.
“This is a probation service. The effectiveness of which is crucial to maintaining the safety of my community, explicitly failing to manage risk of harm to others.
“I await the results of the internal review into what more could have been done by the probation services in the case of Jacqueline Wileman, and what lessons can be learned.”
Barnsley is covered by South Yorkshire CRC which is now the responsibility of Sodexo Justice Services, and was recently rated as ‘requiring improvement’ in an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.
The inspection report noted, among other failings, that ‘the large majority of probation staff are not qualified’, while ‘many are not sufficiently experienced at managing risk of harm to others’.
Jacqueline’s brother, Johnny Wood, told the Chronicle: “As a family we feel we’ve been failed, especially by the Probation Service, as Mellor was already being supervised and Carroll had a previous conviction of causing death by dangerous driving on his record.
“These men, career criminals, simply should not have been allowed to be on the streets. They were, though, and our family’s left with a life sentence.”