Boy, 5, crushed to death under wheels of van driven by disqualified driver who lied 'brazenly' to police

4 September 2023, 21:28 | Updated: 5 September 2023, 08:29

Layton Darwood died after falling off disqualified driver Darren Jacques' trailer
Layton Darwood died after falling off disqualified driver Darren Jacques' trailer. Picture: Northumbria Police

By Kit Heren

A five-year-old boy was crushed to death by a trailer attached to a van driven by a disqualified driver.

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Darren Jacques, 42, was found guilty on Monday of killing Layton Darwood in Newcastle in August 2020.

Layton had been sent out by his family to buy sweets for a family picnic.

Jacques, from Penrith in Cumbria, was a subcontractor who had been given a Ford Transit tipper and trailer by his employer, despite being halfway through a 42-month ban for drink-driving.

He was in the Fenham neighbourhood of Newcastle for work on August 24, and had been about to drive back to Cumbria when he stopped to buy a bottle of beer.

Read more: British policewoman, 22, fell to her death on Greek holiday island after 'being given poisoned alcohol'

Read more: Tributes to NHS worker killed by driver who smashed into two pedestrians and ploughed into a house

Layton Darwood
Layton Darwood. Picture: Northumbria Police

Jacques was seemingly unaware that Layton had got into his trailer and drove off.

Layton got caught as Jacques drove off and fell off and under the wheels.

Bystanders desperately tried to save Layton’s life before paramedics arrived.

Meanwhile Jacques had called his employer, and was given details of another man to pass onto the police.

The culprit carried on lying about his identity for about two hours as Layton lay dying.

Darren Jacques
Darren Jacques. Picture: Northumbria Police

Jacques later confessed his real identity when told to give his fingerprints. He was then arrested.

Layton died in hospital that night.

Jacques was charged with causing Layton’s death and he was convicted of causing death by driving while disqualified.

He will be sentenced on December 4.

Layton's family said they were "devastated" to lose their "happy little boy".

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 PC Greg 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. 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.

"Not only that, but instead of admitting what he did, Jacques supplied attending officers with the details of another person in an attempt to cover his tracks, but our road-side checks caught him in the act. He had plenty of opportunities to admit what he did, but instead has refused to accept his actions, repeatedly denying what he did and putting Layton’s family through the anguish of a trial.

"Jacques’ behaviour was completely unacceptable and I hope he can now reflect on the severity of his actions.“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.

"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."

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