Belfast Telegraph

'Runaway car' owner avoids jail term over death of boy (2) crushed in pram

A mother's tears in court as judge sentences driver

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

The mother of a toddler killed by a runaway car wept in court as its owner was spared an immediate jail sentence.

Rham Gavriel Alvarez (2) suffered severe injuries when the pram his mother Imelda was pushing was struck by a car on the Comber Road in Dundonald in December 2012.

The mother and son were struck by a Volkswagen Golf belonging to Darren Conway and then pinned up against a fence.

The car had silently rolled backwards from the Limetree Residential Home and across the busy road, missing other traffic.

It collided with the buggy, and Rham later died of his injuries.

Conway had been at the nursing home visiting his grandfather when he parked his car, smoked a cigarette and then went inside.

He told witnesses at the scene that he must have forgotten to apply the handbrake of the vehicle.

Tests carried out on the car showed the handbrake had not been fully engaged prior to the accident.

Conway, from Rutherglen Gardens in Bangor, last month pleaded guilty to causing Rham's death by careless driving on December 29, 2012.

Rham's family – some of whom had travelled from the Philippines for yesterday's case – sat yards behind Conway as he was sentenced at Newtownards Crown Court.

Judge Piers Grant imposed a six-month prison sentence on Conway (32), suspended for two years, for the charge of causing death by careless driving. He was also disqualified from driving for a period of three years, which the judge said could have a detrimental impact on his work as a shop fitter.

Judge Grant told Conway that while he was not behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time, he had parked it in a way which had allowed it to "career into the road".

He said Conway had failed to take "simple precautions" as set out in the Highway Code.

"I'm satisfied there are no factors which should be regarded as aggravating factors," the judge added.

He said Conway had a previously clear record. A number of character witnesses had been submitted on behalf of Conway to the court prior to yesterday's sentencing. The judge said there was no sentence he could give which would bring back the little boy.

He said victim impact statements submitted by Rham's family had outlined their devastation.

During the trial the jury heard how Rham's mother was pushing his buggy along the Comber Road in Dundonald on a "blustery" afternoon when Conway's car "careered" into them, wedging the pram and her between the rear bumper and a fence.

Conway knew nothing of what happened until he "heard a commotion" outside.

Shortly after walking from the courtroom dock yesterday, a visibly relieved Conway hugged his relatives.

The toddler's family declined to comment on the sentence.

STORY SO FAR

Darren Conway last month pleaded guilty to causing Rham Alvarez's death by careless driving on December 29, 2012.

The jury heard how Rham's mother was pushing his buggy on a "blustery" afternoon when Conway's Volkswagen Golf "careered" into them.

The car had silently rolled backwards from the Limetree Residential Home and across the busy road, missing all the other traffic. It crashed into the buggy, causing injuries to the little boy which proved fatal.

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