Darren Jacques: Disqualified driver jailed over death of five-year-old Layton Darwood

A driver who caused the death of a five-year-old boy when he was supposed to be serving a ban for drink driving has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Darren Jacques, of Hutton Hill in Penrith, was halfway through a 42-month suspension when he pulled up outside a shop in his work van for a bottle of beer on 25 August 2020.

Five-year-old Layton Darwood climbed on to the trailer while he was in the shop in Fenham, in Newcastle, and fell off as Jacques, 42, drove away.

He later died in hospital.

Jacques, who initially gave police a false name, was charged with causing death by driving while disqualified and was found guilty on 4 September, following a six-day trial.

He has also been hit with a six-year driving ban, which will begin when he is out of prison.

In a victim impact statement, Layton's mum, Stephany Bloomer, said Layton was "excited to be going on his first little adventure" coming out of a COVID lockdown.

"Getting sweets and cake was Layton's favourite thing to do, he was so excited," she said.

"Little did I realise this would also be his last adventure.

"Instead of seeing smiling faces I came face to face with the most horrific scene, as I had to kneel by Layton and watch while they performed surgery."

'No remorse'

Addressing Jacques, she said she could talk "all day" about "wonderful" Layton, but "you don't deserve to know about a boy you showed no remorse over".

She said nothing will take away the "trapped screams" in her heart, throat and stomach and that her life is empty without her son.

"This is now my life going forward, trying to heal the wounds unseen," she said.

"So you see, no justice will be served in my eyes as I am left with a lifetime without him, and I'm the one who has to try and rebuild a family you broke."

Layton's dad, Stephen Darwood, wrote in a victim impact statement his life changed forever on the day he not only lost his son but also his "best friend".

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He has suffered mentally, physical and financially, he added.

"I have nearly lost everything, I have lost my job, I could not get out of bed due to PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], depression and anxiety," he said.

"I hope other people who learn of Jacques's sentencing will think before they do the same thing and hopefully this will act as a deterrent."

Lying about his name

Layton was rushed to hospital after the incident, but later died from his injuries. Jacques provided a false name to police while Layton was receiving treatment.

Telecoms data recovered by police revealed Jacques's employer gave him details of another man to supply to officers in the moments following the incident.

He lied about his name for two hours, but confessed his real identity after police requested he provide a fingerprint with a mobile scanner.

Sergeant Russell Surrey of Northumbria Police described Jacques as "brazen".

"Not only did he drive while banned and lie to officers, but he refused to accept his guilt and put Layton's family through the anguish of a trial," he said.

"He has shown no remorse."