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Moment serial drink-driver who ran over and killed five-year-old boy as he stopped to buy a bottle of beer is arrested and gives police his boss’ name to try and escape justice – as he’s jailed for six years


The moment a serial drink driver who was serving his fourth disqualification from the roads was arrested after running over and killing a ‘bright and funny’ five-year-old boy has been revealed for the first time.

Darren Jacques’ appalling driving record was exposed in court as he was jailed for six years for causing the death of Layton Darwood when he pulled over to buy a bottle of beer.

His has convictions for three drink driving disqualifications, taking a vehicle without consent and he has now been banned from the roads for the fifth time after attempting to hide his role in the incident by giving his boss’ name to police.

Layton was excited to be ‘on an adventure’ with a group of older girls from his family to buy sweets and cake from a shop near his parents’ home in Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Banned driver Jacques, 42, had been illegally at the wheel of a work flatbed truck towing a trailer with a digger on board and parked it on the pavement outside the shop. The court heard he has 54 convictions on his record.

Layton was just five years old when he was killed after climbing on top of the trailer

Layton was just five years old when he was killed after climbing on top of the trailer

Darren Jacques spoke to police at the scene of the incident but originally gave officers his boss' name and details

Darren Jacques spoke to police at the scene of the incident but originally gave officers his boss’ name and details

Jacques, 42, has 54 convictions on his record including previous drink driving offences

Jacques, 42, has 54 convictions on his record including previous drink driving offences

Because it was on the kerb, little Layton couldn’t resist the temptation to climb onto the trailer, but his shoelaces became tangled in the coupling between it and the truck.

Having bought a large bottle of Stella Artois, Jacques got back into the truck and drove away without checking where the youngster and the three other children were.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Layton fell from the coupling and went under the trailer’s wheels.

Video footage released by police today as Jacques was jailed shows the moment he admitted giving officers the wrong name.

‘I didn’t mean to give you the runaround,’ he told officers, adding: ‘I just panicked’. 

He placed his head in his hands as he was arrested on suspicion of causing serious injury – before later being rearrested after Layton passed away. 

He was not only banned from the roads at the time but was also not qualified to drive the works vehicle he was using that day, and had no insurance.

Layton’s mother Stephany Richardson gave harrowing evidence of arriving at the scene to find paramedics trying in vain to save her little boy by massaging his heart at the roadside.

As he lay dying, Jacques was trying to avoid responsibility for the accident.

Jacques had stopped at the shop to buy a bottle of beer when the incident happened

Jacques had stopped at the shop to buy a bottle of beer when the incident happened

Jacques rang a colleague to ask for his boss Peter Shepherd's full name, address and date of birth and then gave them to the police

Jacques rang a colleague to ask for his boss Peter Shepherd’s full name, address and date of birth and then gave them to the police

CCTV showed Jacques driving past the shop before pulling up to buy beer

CCTV showed Jacques driving past the shop before pulling up to buy beer

He rang a colleague to ask for his boss Peter Shepherd’s full name, address and date of birth and then gave them to the police.

He only admitted his true identity – and revealed his past driving record – when a police officer told him a fingerprint scanner was being brought to the scene.

Judge Robert Adams told Jacques the offences were aggravated because: ‘You have demonstrated a lax attitude to disqualified driving and you aggravated things further by giving false details to the police.’

Layton was killed on August 24th 2020 and just four months earlier in April of that year, Jacques had been caught driving whilst disqualified.

For that offence he was given a community order, which he ignored and ended up being sent to prison for 11 weeks.

But it served as no deterrent and the construction worker, who the court heard drank four cans of beer every day, got straight back behind the wheel of his boss’s Ford Transit flatbed truck.

On the day of Layton’s death he was towing a digger on a trailer, the weight of the unit causing unsurvivable injuries.

Stephany Richardson read out a statement in court to tell of her heartbreak at her family’s loss and her fury at Jacques’ callous attempt to avoid detection.

Facing Jacques, Ms Richardson said: ‘The impact this has had can never be measured.

Jacques could be seen in CCTV footage from police wearing a face mask around the bottom half of his face

Jacques could be seen in CCTV footage from police wearing a face mask around the bottom half of his face

Jacques was seen on police bodycam footage after giving false details to police officers

Jacques was seen on police bodycam footage after giving false details to police officers

‘You took my bright, funny, full of life little boy and you also stole the innocence of three young girls and destroyed a family.

‘On that day, Layton was excited to be going on his first adventure. Getting cake and sweets was his favourite thing to do, but little did I realise this would be his last adventure.

‘I had to witness the most horrific scene of emergency workers massaging his heart at the roadside.

‘And while this was happening you were lying, trying to cover your tracks, giving false information and false names. Not once did you ask how my son was during that time.

‘I could talk all day about how wonderful my little boy was but you don’t deserve to know anything about him.

‘No justice will be served today in my eyes because I am facing a lifetime without him while trying to hold together a family that you broke.’

Layton’s father Stephen said in a statement: ‘I not only lost my son on this day but my best friend. My life changed forever that day.

‘I will never get the chance to watch my son grow up and have a family of his own.

‘Darren Jacques not only killed my son on that day but in truth has nearly killed me.

‘Since that day Layton was taken away I have suffered mentally, physically and financially, I’ve nearly lost everything. I have lost my job, I couldn’t get out of bed.’

Jacques was first disqualified in August 2006 for 12 months for drink driving.

In November the following year he was banned again for ignoring the driving ban, aggravated vehicle taking, careless driving and failing to stop.

Then in September 2013 he was banned for 39 months, again for drinking and driving.

At the time he killed Layton he was halfway through a 42 month driving ban for his third drink driving conviction and had already been caught flouting that ban.

Placing his head in his hands after being arrested for causing Layton's death, Jacques said: 'I panicked'

Placing his head in his hands after being arrested for causing Layton’s death, Jacques said: ‘I panicked’

When he was caught in April 2020 driving whilst disqualified he lied on that occasion too, giving police his brother’s details.

Christopher Knox, for Jacques, of Penrith, Cumbria, said if the offence had not resulted in Layton’s death it would not have been a serious breach of road rules, falling under the category of careless driving.

He said Jacques had shown genuine remorse for Layton’s death and the court heard he made a suicide attempt in the wake of the incident.

He took the youngster’s family through a trial, denying causing Layton’s death by driving whilst disqualified, but was convicted by a jury in September.

Judge Robert Adams told Jacques he had seen Layton and the three girls clearly, jogging past them as he went back to the truck after buying his beer.

However before he set off he did not make adequate checks on where the children were before pulling away.

The judge told Jacques: ‘Nothing Layton did was surprising. He was a five-year-old boy, this trailer was parked by you on the pavement and he climbed onto it. Sadly he was on the trailer, tangled up in it when you drove forward.’

He added: ‘You failed to carry out adequate checks that would have been taken by a careful and competent driver.

‘It resulted in you driving forward with a child stuck in the coupling who then fell and suffered catastrophic injuries.’

He said that being stopped for disqualified driving in April 2020 should have been enough to deter him from getting behind the wheel again, but it was not.

Judge Adams said: ‘You expressed the view that this was a tragic accident but on the conviction of the jury it was your fault.’

He jailed father of five Jacques for six years and imposed a six year driving ban.



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