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Tragic five-year-old boy who was sent out to buy sweets for family picnic was crushed under wheels of van after bending down to tie his shoelaces – as disqualified driver is found guilty of causing his death

A five-year-old boy who was sent out to buy sweets for a family picnic was crushed to death under the wheels of a van after bending down to tie his sh

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A five-year-old boy who was sent out to buy sweets for a family picnic was crushed to death under the wheels of a van after bending down to tie his shoelaces. 

Disqualified driver Darren Jacques, 40, was found guilty of causing the death of Layton Darwood in Fenham, Newcastle, on August 24 2020.

Layton, five, had been with three other children and had gone to a nearby shop to buy sweets and supplies for a picnic after the eldest of the group had been given a bank card. 

CCTV footage showed how Jacques parked his Ford Transit Tipper on a kerb before dashing into a shop and grabbing a bottle of alcohol. He then was seen exiting the shop and jogging past Layton and the other children as he went back to his van.

But while Jacques’ vehicle was stationary, Layton climbed on to the trailer. As Jacques began to move away, the young boy fell to the ground and the wheels of the trailer rolled over him, causing fatal injuries. 

The trial had heard Layton may have got his shoelaces caught before falling under the wheels. The five-year-old died after falling underneath the trailer of Jacques’ Ford Transit Tipper.

Darren Jacques, 40, has been convicted of causing death by driving whilst disqualified. He had denied the charge but a jury saw through his 'lies and excuses'

Darren Jacques, 40, has been convicted of causing death by driving whilst disqualified. He had denied the charge but a jury saw through his 'lies and excuses'

Darren Jacques, 40, has been convicted of causing death by driving whilst disqualified. He had denied the charge but a jury saw through his ‘lies and excuses’

Little Layton Darwood, 5, was crushed beneath the wheels of the Ford Transit Tipper he had been climbing on in Willow Avenue, Fenham, Newcastle, on August 24 2020

Little Layton Darwood, 5, was crushed beneath the wheels of the Ford Transit Tipper he had been climbing on in Willow Avenue, Fenham, Newcastle, on August 24 2020

Little Layton Darwood, 5, was crushed beneath the wheels of the Ford Transit Tipper he had been climbing on in Willow Avenue, Fenham, Newcastle, on August 24 2020

Jacques, of Hutton Hill, Penrith, Cumbria, had been standing trial at Newcastle Crown Court charged with causing death by driving whilst disqualified. 

Today, a jury of 12 people found Jacques guilty of the charge.

Jacques had been working in Fenham that day and had finished his shift when he went into the local shop after ‘mounting the pavement’ in the van – which was towing a trailer with a small digger on the back. 

As Jacques began to move away, Layton fell to the ground and the wheels of the trailer rolled over him, causing fatal injuries. 

Giving evidence during the trial, Sergeant Alan Keenleyside, a Forensic Collision Investigator for Northumbria Police, told the jury it was his opinion that Jacques was aware the children were there and that he should have taken ‘greater care’ when moving away.

When police arrived, Jacques gave a false name and false details about his date of birth and address. 

He later admitted his real name, saying he ‘panicked’. Emergency efforts were then made to try and save Layton’s life, but he was pronounced dead in hospital later that day. 

Jacques was shown on CCTV 'mounting the kerb' in his Ford Transit before going into a nearby shop to buy a bottle of booze

Jacques was shown on CCTV 'mounting the kerb' in his Ford Transit before going into a nearby shop to buy a bottle of booze

Jacques was shown on CCTV ‘mounting the kerb’ in his Ford Transit before going into a nearby shop to buy a bottle of booze 

Jacques, of Hutton Hill, Penrith, Cumbria, had been standing trial at Newcastle Crown Court. A jury of 12 people found him guilty

Jacques, of Hutton Hill, Penrith, Cumbria, had been standing trial at Newcastle Crown Court. A jury of 12 people found him guilty

Jacques, of Hutton Hill, Penrith, Cumbria, had been standing trial at Newcastle Crown Court. A jury of 12 people found him guilty 

A post-mortem examination found that the force of the wheels going over Layton would give an account for his fatal injuries.

A statement issued by Layton’s mother, Stephany, on behalf of the family read: ‘We are devastated by what happened and miss Layton beyond words. He was a loving, happy little boy with his whole life ahead of him and our worst nightmare came true the day we lost him.

‘Although some sort of justice has been served today it’s a very bitter sweet situation. It has taken a long, hard three years with many set-backs and challenges along the way.

‘If it had not been for the determination of my mam and Northumbria Police we would not be here today, seeing justice be served for Layton.

‘A common saying among police is deeds not words and in this case the deeds of Sergeant Ray Lowery, Sergeant Russ Surrey and Sergeant William Huntley have well outweighed all the words ever spoken.’

Speaking after the trial, the officer in charge of the case, Sergeant Russell Surrey, of Northumbria Police, said: ‘To say this case has been devastating would be a complete understatement as losing Layton has caused this family unimaginable pain and suffering no one should ever have to go through.

When police arrived, Jacques gave a false name and false details about his date of birth and address. A judge will sentence Jacques at a later date whom he told to expect an immediate custodial sentence

When police arrived, Jacques gave a false name and false details about his date of birth and address. A judge will sentence Jacques at a later date whom he told to expect an immediate custodial sentence

When police arrived, Jacques gave a false name and false details about his date of birth and address. A judge will sentence Jacques at a later date whom he told to expect an immediate custodial sentence

‘I would like to praise the strength and resilience they have shown throughout the investigation and subsequent court proceedings.

‘I really hope today can act as that first step towards the closure they deserve and help them move forward from this awful, tragic incident.

‘I am pleased the jury saw through the excuses and lies told by Darren Jacques. 

‘Despite being banned from the roads he was brazenly driving in a work capacity and was even in charge of a large, heavy-duty vehicle which he wasn’t trained or qualified to operate.’

Following the guilty verdict, Judge Adams told Jacques he would be sentenced at a later date and ordered a pre-sentence report to be put together. He told Jacques to expect an immediate custodial sentence and bailed him until his next court appearance.

A provisional sentence date of Monday, December 4 was given.

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