Family pay tribute to “happy, loving” five year old child who died after getting crushed under trailer
The driver is facing jail time following the incident.
Groundworker Darren Jacques had parked his flatbed truck, which was pulling a trailer carrying a digger, outside a grocery shop he popped into in Fenham, Newcastle, on August 24 2020.
Newcastle Crown Court heard schoolboy Layton Darwood had been at the same store, with some other children, to buy treats during the school summer holidays and he climbed onto the vehicle as they left.
Prosecutor Matthew Donkin told the court as Jacques started to pull away, Layton fell beneath the trailer and suffered unsurvivable torso injuries.
Jacques, of Penrith in Cumbria, is facing jail time following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
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."
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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."