'Please help us': Plea from family of hit-and-run victim killed by driver in stolen car

A devastated family whose hearts have been "ripped out" after a fatal hit-and-run in the Black Country have appealed for information as an up to £20,000 reward was launched.

Tributes left to Darren Whitehouse shortly after his death last year
Tributes left to Darren Whitehouse shortly after his death last year

Darren Whitehouse had been walking his dog on the pavement on St Mark's Road, Tipton, on February 27 last year talking with a friend when he was struck by a vehicle.

The driver of the stolen silver Infiniti Q50s mounted the pavement and hit the 43-year-old. The car was later found by police abandoned nearby on Griffiths Street a short time afterwards.

Two people have been arrested over Mr Whitehouse's death but nobody has been charged, prompting an appeal from the family and an up to £20,000 reward being launched.

Susanne Timmins, Mr Whitehouse's mother, was teary eyed as she urged anyone to come forward – saying she relieved the incident "every day and every night" and wanted justice, and had heard the incident whilst she was sitting on her sofa.

Susanne Timmins and Christine Beckett have pleaded for those responsible to come forward

She said: "I would like to make an appeal for anyone who saw anyone or knows anything to come forward, please. This has just ripped our hearts out, he was just a by-stander.

"I just really need somebody to come forward and just help us out to catch whoever has done this. I need justice for my son, it's been over 12 months now and I just want justice.

"Darren loved to go fishing, he was on the pool team and helped numerous people. His friends are all left devastated as we all are. I just really need someone to come forward, it could've been anyone's father, mother, daughter, son.

"Please. Somebody come forward and help us, I'm begging you – please."

CCTV footage from the scene, which does not capture the fatal collision – shows the speeding vehicle mount the pavement. It can be seen tearing away in the aftermath of the crash.

Christine Beckett, Mr Whitehouse's aunt, said their heartbroken family were still waiting for the 43-year-old to return home after he had left to walk his dog, like he did every other day.

She added: "We, as a family, are still waiting for him to come back. He was standing on the pavement minding his own business, talking to a friend. The car never tried to stop – it just carried on. Someone knows something. Please just come forward."

The family's pleas came as Crimestoppers launched a reward of up to £20,000 for anonymous information that leads to the conviction of those responsible which has been welcomed by investigators in the case.

Alan Edwards, Crimestoppers West Midlands regional manager, said: "The death of Darren Whitehouse is tragic and has left his family and friends with an incredible loss of someone who was much-loved.

A suspect and the stolen car involved in the hit-and-run

"They deserve to see those responsible held to account before someone else is hurt by such reckless and criminal behaviour.

“Crimestoppers exists purely to give those people who know who was responsible for crimes like this an option – a safe and completely anonymous option to pass on what you know without giving your details, and then you’re done. We are also offering a reward of up to £20,000.

“Our charity has kept its promise of anonymity to everyone since we started back in the late 1980s and we are proud to support over half a million people each year who want to do the right thing, but don’t want to speak to the police.

“If you know who was behind the wheel or in the car at the time and have so far stayed silent, then now is your opportunity to speak up anonymously. "

DS Paul Hughes said the Infiniti car that h it Darren was stolen was using false number plates

Det Sgt Paul Hughes, from West Midlands Police's serious collision investigations unit, said the Infiniti car was stolen was using false number plates and the investigations were ongoing.

He said: "Two men have been arrested but no charges have been brought. The investigation continues and we're appealing for anyone with information to come forward. I need information about who was behind that wheel driving that Infiniti car at the time. I want people to think long and hard – they will be helping Darren's family.

"I'm extremely grateful to the charity Crimestoppers who have offered an incredible reward of up to £20,000 for information about those responsible. They (the family) have been left devastated by these events and a year later they are without the answers they so desperately deserve."

Tributes at the scene of the fatal hit-and-run

Det Sgt Hughes said investigations after the vehicle had been discovered had determined it was stolen and on false plates and explained "collisions are quite unique" when asked if he had a suspected motive for Mr Whitehouse's death.

"Nobody sets out to have a collision, I suspect we know that it's a stolen vehicle and (that) may feature heavily on why the driver did not stop at the scene. The investigation never closes and we will follow any lines of inquiry that come to light," he said.

Det Sgt Hughes said said the emotion felt by the family was still "very raw" adding the family was "extremely close-knit" – and ruled out a connection between the collision and another incident which happened on the road on the same day.

The hit-and-run took place at around 1.45pm on the street whilst a stabbing happened nearby at 2.15pm, but the two incidents are not linked, police have confirmed.

People can contact Crimestoppers via their UK contact centre on freephone 0800 555 111, or people can fill in a secure anonymous form online.

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