Mum of Great Oxendon man killed in road accident says son’s friend should not face court action

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The mother of a young chef who died in a car crash has appealed to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service not to take action against his best friend, who was the car’s driver.

Cathy Whittall, from Great Oxendon near Market Harborough, said: “This young man was my son’s best friend, and also suffered serious injuries in the crash.”

“His prosecution is not something I want to happen.

“I don’t want to worry about his future.

“And I’m certain my son Zach would want his friend to be protected by us as a family.”

Mrs Whittall’s son Zach Whittall (21) died at about 11pm on August 19 last year, when the car in which he was a passenger, a black Vauxhall Corsa, left the road and hit a tree in Stretton, Rutland.

The car had been driven by Zach’s friend and work colleague Luke Mercieca.

The two had just finished a shift at The Olive Branch pub and restaurant in Clipsham, Rutland, where they both worked.

But Mrs Whittall told the Mail she does not want any action taken against Luke.

She said she believes the police still have more to find out about the accident, in particular about other cars in the area at the time of the crash.

She has appealed for any witnesses to the accident to tell the police what they know.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service has said they had received a file of evidence from Leicestershire Police about the crash, and a decision on whether to charge anyone in connection with the incident is still under review.

At the time of the crash, Cathy told the Mail: “Zachary was our eldest son and was a talented chef. For the last year he has worked as an integral part of the team at The Olive Branch, he loved to cook and was always laughing.

“We are absolutely devastated by what has happened. Suddenly a family-of-five has been reduced to just four.”

She added: “We are extremely proud of Zach and what he has achieved in his career. Myself, Peter his dad, Connor and Angus his brothers are trying to deal with what has happened. You never imagine you will outlive your own children.”

The Olive Branch’s co-owner, Ben Jones, also paid tribute to Zachary at the time, saying:“Zach was a hard-working, dedicated and passionate young chef, he was full of smiles, positive and always had a joke to tell.

“He put 100 per cent into his work and was a real team player.”

Any witnesses to the crash can contact the East Midlands Serious Collision Investigation Unit by calling the police 101 number.