A banned driver with a history of flouting court orders was today (Monday, December 4) jailed for six years following the death of a boy who had been playing on a parked flatbed truck.

Darren Jacques pulled away from the roadside without having made adequate checks for the presence of children playing in the vicinity, causing Layton Darwood to fall under the trailer of the Ford Transit Tipper, which drove over him, causing serious catastrophic injuries.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, who gave treatment at the scene, in Willow Avenue, Fenham, Newcastle, five-year-old Layton died from those injuries, in late afternoon on Monday, August 25, 2020.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that although Jacques had called for the emergency services, having been alerted to the accident by a teenage witness at the scene, he then gave police the name and details of his employer, from Cumbria, having rung a colleague for the information.

The Northern Echo: Darren Jacques convicted of causing five-year-old Layton Darwood's death by driving while

It was only when police said equipment was being brought to carry out a fingerprint test, after Layton was taken to hospital, that Jacques finally came clean and gave his correct details.

The court heard he was subject of a 42-month driving ban at the time, having been convicted for drink driving and no insurance by magistrates in Cumbria, in November 2018.

He was also being investigated at the time of the fatality for driving while disqualified, two offences of drug driving, and obstructing a police officer, having given his brother’s name, when stopped in April 2020, four months before the tragedy.

Andrew Espley, prosecuting, said on the day of the incident, Jacques was collected by his boss from his home in Penrith, at 6am, and driven to a depot in Tursdale, Durham, from where he drove the trailer and tipper to Newcastle to carry out cabling work.

It was upon completion of the day’s work that he set off to drive back to Durham, parking partly on the pavement near a shop in Willow Avenue, to buy a bottle of beer.

The court heard that he was aware that children were playing in the vicinity of his truck but took insufficient measures to check for their presence as he began to pull away slowly from the kerbside.

The Northern Echo: Darren Jacques, 42, received a six-year prison sentence for causing the death of a five-year-old

Jacques, 42, of Hutton Hill, Penrith, denied causing death by driving while disqualified, but was found guilty on a unanimous jury verdict following his trial in September.

His sentencing hearing today was told of the “devastation” Layton’s death has had on his parents, Stephany Bloomer and Stephen Darwood.

Ms Bloomer spoke of the “most horrific scene” she came across on seeing her unconscious son being treated at the roadside by paramedics.

She said she felt Jacques has shown no remorse by his action at the scene and since, taking the case to trial, “adding more torment and pain”.

Addressing the court in a victim impact statement, Ms Bloomer said: “The impact this has had and will continue to have can never be measured or explained.

"Not only did you take my bright, funny and full of life Layton, you destroyed a family.

“On that day, Layton was excited to be going on his first little adventure, especially as we had just come out of Covid.

The Northern Echo:

“Getting sweets and cake was Layton’s favourite thing to do, he was so excited.

"Little did I realise this would also be his last adventure.

"Instead of seeing smiling faces, I came face to face with the most horrific scene, as I had to kneel by Layton and watch while they performed surgery.”

Turning to address Jacques, she added: “Cutting him open to massage his heart at the roadside, and while this was happening you were lying and trying your best to cover your tracks by giving false names.

"Not once did you ask if my son was OK or even alive.

“There was no remorse that day, or even for the three years you have dragged this out, for not letting this family grieve and just adding more torment and pain.

“I could talk all day about my wonderful little boy but you don’t deserve to know about a boy you showed no remorse over.

“Nothing and I mean nothing can ever take away the trapped screams I hold in my heart, my throat my stomach.

"The emptiness of life without Layton in it.

“This is now my life going forward, trying to heal the wounds unseen.

"So, you see, no justice will be served in my eyes as I am left with a lifetime without him, and I’m the one who has to try and rebuild a family you broke.”

Mr Darwood said it has had a major impact on his life and he has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder plus anxiety issues, turning to alcohol and substance misuse to try to cope.

The court heard that Jacques has 54 offences on his record, many for motoring convictions, the latest of which saw his serve 11 weeks in custody only earlier this year.

Chris Knox, in mitigation, said, that despite the feelings of Layton’s family, the defendant has expressed remorse for the accident.

He admits having driven work vehicles for his employer prior to the tragedy and was aware he is facing a custodial sentence of some length.

Judge Robert Adams said it was an aggravating feature that not only was Jacques flouting a driving disqualification, he was not even qualified to drive the vehicles involved in the accident, which had under-inflated tyres, two of which were also in unroadworthy condition.

The judge said knowing children were in the vicinity, Jacques failed to adequately check his blind spots when returning to the vehicle to pull away after visiting the shop.

But Judge Adams told the defendant that although he did ring for the emergency services, “you made matters worse by telling lies to the police at the scene”, knowing the victim was unconscious at the very least.

Imposing the six-year prison sentence, of which Jacques must serve up to half before his release on licence, Judge Adams told him: “You have a history of relevant offending where your behaviour has shown a disregard to the rules of the road and others who may be affected by your driving.”

He said: “You chose to drive knowing you were disqualified and that there were children in the vicinity and failed to take adequate steps to check where they were.”

Jacques was also banned from driving for a period of three years upon his release from prison and must sit an extended re-test to lawfully be able to take to the roads upon completion of the disqualification period.

Speaking after the hearing, the officer in charge of the case, Sergeant Russell Surrey of Northumbria Police said: “The pain and suffering Jacques has caused Layton’s family is unimaginable.

"Today marks the end of the criminal proceedings and hopefully this will allow them to begin moving forward with their lives.

“Jacques was brazen. Not only did he drive while banned and lie to officers, but he refused to accept his guilt and put Layton’s family through the anguish of a trial. He has shown no remorse. 

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

🔍 Missed the latest local news? There's still time! Subscribe now for only £3 for 3 months and be at the heart of every local story. Your community, your news. #StayUpdated #LocalNewsMatters

*** Click here for details of the offer

“We all have a responsibility to drive safely and in accordance with the law.

"Layton’s death is a stark reminder that a momentary lapse of concentration, or failure to carry out the most basic of checks has the potential to destroy many lives.

“This case has had a profound impact on everyone involved, including the officers and staff who have helped bring Jacques to justice, and it goes without saying that no-one, especially a young child, should ever lose their life on our roads.”