Joyrider who killed unborn baby wins legal aid for anonymity plea

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A 17-year-old who was jailed after he drove away from police at more than 100mph on the wrong side of a dual carriageway has been granted legal aid to try to keep his name out of the media. He caused an accident which led to the death of an unborn child.

A 17-year-old who was jailed after he drove away from police at more than 100mph on the wrong side of a dual carriageway has been granted legal aid to try to keep his name out of the media. He caused an accident which led to the death of an unborn child.

Magistrates ruled that the youth, who comes from the Wisbech area of Cambridgeshire, should be named so the public could call police if they saw him driving again. But he will remain anonymous while his lawyers seek a judicial review of that ruling in the High Court.

Under-18s involved in youth court proceedings cannot be identified in the media unless a court rules otherwise. But yesterday the Legal Services Commission, which assesses legal aid claims, said the youth had been granted aid to pursue a judicial review.

"We have a statutory responsibility to objectively assess cases based on financial eligibility and the legal merits test," said a commission spokesman.

"The Legal Services Commission considers all cases objectively against these criteria before deciding whether or not to fund a case. We cannot differentiate between applicants for legal aid on the grounds that a decision to grant funding may be unpopular in a particular case."

Last week magistrates at a youth court in King's Lynn, Norfolk, jailed the youth for 16 months and imposed a three-year driving ban after hearing that he was a "lethal weapon".

The accident happened on the A47 at Terrington St John, Norfolk, in January. Stacy Ellington, of Upwell, Norfolk, was injured and lost her unborn child after her boyfriend, who was driving, swerved to avoid the joyrider's Vauxhall Cavalier and was then in collision with a following police car.

Lawyers are expected to decide in the next few weeks whether the driver of the police car should be charged with a criminal offence. Independent Police Complaints Commission officials say an investigation report into the accident should be completed by the end of this month.

The youth admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance, failing to stop for police and failing to stop after an accident.

He was trying to avoid arrest after a driving incident earlier that day and told his terrified passenger: "They don't normally follow me down the wrong way."

A warrant had also been issued for his arrest after he failed to make a scheduled court appearance in December.

Andrew Lyons, for the defence, told magistrates that the youth's behaviour had deteriorated after he suffered a brain haemorrhage and he was "utterly remorseful" about his actions.