Mechanic jailed over Porsche death

 

A former Kwik Fit mechanic who killed an eight-year-old boy while driving a customer's Porsche 911 was jailed for six and a half years today.

Ryan Fleming died in hospital after being hit by the sports car as he crossed the road in Maldon, Essex, on January 15 last year.

Tyre-fitter Gary Reader, 32, was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking last month.

Ex-Kwik Fit apprentice Timothy Smith, 19, who was the passenger in the Porsche, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to aggravated vehicle taking.

Passing sentence, Judge Charles Gratwicke told Reader the consequences of his dangerous driving were "horrifying".

He said: "This was not your vehicle, it was not a vehicle that you drove frequently or were experienced with.

"Therefore there followed, as this court has heard, a course of persistent dangerous driving, with you flagrantly disregarding the rules of the road and having a complete disregard of the danger to other road users that you posed as you drove that vehicle at speed along the highway."

Reader, of Tiptree, Essex, shook his head slightly as he was led away to begin his sentence.

The judge told Smith he "encouraged and egged on" Reader, adding: "You were part of the tragic chain of events which led to such tragic and awful consequences."

As Smith was led down to the cells, one of his relatives shouted after him, "Love you, Tim".

From the other side of the courtroom a member of Ryan's family called back: "We love our Ryan more. We won't see Ryan again, but you'll get to see him again."

The owner of the silver Porsche 911 Carerra took it to the Kwik Fit garage in Maldon on the morning of Saturday January 15 last year to have the rear tyres replaced, the court heard.

Just before 2.30pm Reader announced he was going to take the sportscar for a drive, and set off with Smith in the passenger seat.

Witnesses described seeing the Porsche being driven "aggressively" and "at a stupid speed", accelerating and then braking hard. Some estimated it was travelling at over 80mph.

A woman filling up her car at a Tesco petrol station saw Smith "laughing and jumping up and down" in the passenger seat and told police she was in no doubt that the two men were "larking around".

Another witness told officers she said to herself: "They're driving like idiots, they're going to kill someone."

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson told the court: "It was no more and no less than a joyride."

Ryan, from Heybridge, Essex, his older brother Sean and a friend set out that day for their boxing club, but the instructor told them it was cancelled so they went to a McDonald's restaurant instead.

They were seen drinking a milkshake or a fizzy drink, "laughing and having fun", the court heard.

Witnesses said they saw the three young boys standing at the side of the A414 waiting to cross the road.

Moments before the collision, motorist Richard Waylen heard a loud roar from the Porsche as though the driver of the sportscar had "floored the accelerator".

"Mr Waylen immediately saw what he thought was a bag flying in the air. It wasn't - it was Ryan," Mr Jackson said.

The young boy, who was only 4ft 8ins tall, hit the Porsche's windscreen and was thrown an estimated 49 metres by the force of the collision, the court heard.

An expert estimated that the high-performance car was travelling at between 50 and 76mph when it hit Ryan, who would have died almost instantly. The speed limit on that stretch of the road was 50mph.

At the scene of the crash Reader admitted he was the driver but said he had not been going very fast. Mr Waylen told Reader he saw him "going like a bat out of hell".

When he was arrested and interviewed by police Reader claimed he took the Porsche out to get a special tool to change its tyres, but the prosecution said this implement was available at his own garage.

He told officers he was driving at 40mph, adding: "Anyone who saw me that day would have thought I was a good driver."

Smith, of Maldon, told police he felt "nervous" in the car because of Reader's speed and asked him to slow down several times.

Clare Ashcroft, mitigating for Reader, who is responsible for four young children, said: "This decision was completely out of Mr Reader's ordinary character.

"Up until that point he had been a reliable, hard-working, and trustworthy employee of Kwik Fit."

Smith, who was 18 at the time of the tragedy, was the most junior member of staff at Kwik Fit that day, the court heard.

His barrister Maria Dineen said: "Timothy Smith is truly sorry, sorry beyond words for his part in young Ryan's death."

Ryan's family said they hoped the prosecution would send a warning message to drivers that "cars are weapons".

They said in a statement: "We are all stuck for words. They say time will heal, but neither time nor reason will change the way we feel.

"Behind our smiles lie empty eyes and broken hearts. It is very hard for us to come to terms with Ryan's death.

"Justice has today been served on Gary Reader and Timothy Smith. They will have to live with their actions for the rest of their lives.

"They killed a very precious family member, a family which now lives without seeing or hearing Ryan again.

"We all have him embedded in our hearts. We still wait for Ryan to come running through the door.

"We hope this prosecution conveys a strong message to all drivers that cars are weapons and should not be taken lightly."

Inspector Keith Whiting, the senior investigating officer in the case, added: "We hope people learn from this death. It can happen to anyone driving at high speed in an area where children congregate.

"Drivers and passengers face prison when they become involved in this type of incident."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower