Angry scenes as joyrider jailed for child deaths

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The Independent Online
A TEENAGE joyrider was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail yesterday for the manslaughter of two children he knocked down as they were collecting 'pennies for the guy' last year.

There were furious scenes at Liverpool Crown Court as he was sentenced. Christopher Lewin was struck on the head by a cigarette lighter hurled from the public gallery as relatives and friends of the victims grappled with police in an attempt to attack him.

Mr Justice Hidden sentenced Lewin, 19, to four and a half years in a young offenders' institution for the manslaughter of Daniel Davies, 9, and Adele Thompson, 12, killed when he lost control of a stolen sports car in Granby Street, Toxteth, last October.

He was sentenced to a further consecutive 18 months on each of two previous offences of reckless driving. He was banned from driving for a total of seven years.

As the judge gave details of the sentences, angry relatives stormed out of the public gallery. One woman shouted: 'We are going to be waiting for you when you get out. We will be waiting for you all your life.' Relatives tried to get back into the court, finding the way blocked by a line of officers.

Earlier, as Richard Henriques QC, for the defence, told how Lewin had expressed remorse, a man hurled the lighter, hitting Lewin on the temple.

It was the cue for men and women to rush the dock while prison officers hustled Lewin out of court into a secure room. At least five people were ejected.

The judge said: 'There are provisions which enable me to take action against anyone creating a disturbance, but I don't wish to avail myself of them because I know the degree of emotion felt.'

Passing sentence, the judge recalled that Lewin told police he had been joyriding. He said: 'Whatever joy you got in the 10 minutes you were driving that vehicle has to be looked at not through your eyes. It has to be weighed, that 10 minutes, against a lifetime of agony, grief and bitterness which you put into the lives of all those who are the loved ones of those children.'

The judge said Lewin had never passed a driving test, but had previously been disqualified from driving by a court. He said Lewin drove the Mazda MX3 car beyond his capabilities and did not seek out a wide road.

He accepted Lewin was feeling remorse, but his previous driving offences showed 'an appalling disregard of the law in general and road traffic law in particular'.

He said: 'You will think the sentence I pass is high. Others will think it far, far too low because no sentence I can pass can in any way redeem the evil that you have done.'

Mr Henriques then said: 'The defendant apprehends accurately that the whole of his local community are quite properly outraged by his behaviour. He and his family have had to move their home many miles away.' He asked the judge to consider the 'terrifying' experiences Lewin had undergone part of his punishment.

The court had heard that Lewin, a trainee car mechanic of Toxteth, had twice been released on bail by magistrates after crashing other stolen cars at high speed.

Jim Sharples, Chief Constable of Merseyside, said in a statement afterwards: 'This highlights the problem of offenders committing further crimes while on bail.'

Outside the court Sharon Davies, Daniel's mother, dismissed defence claims that Lewin had given himself up. She said: 'He had no choice. He was beaten up and thrown outside the police station and told to walk in because he wouldn't be walking back out.'