Mum shares tribute to her five-year-old boy killed by an “arrogant” motorist who had complained he was “fed up” of children playing on his driveway.
David Cowell, 42, has been jailed for two years after being convicted of causing little Riley Ferguson’s death by careless driving, with the five-year-old victim since remembered as a “beautiful little man”.
Cowell, who was the family’s neighbour and had two previous convictions for drink driving, was also banned from the road for five years, reports The Sun.
Reading a victim impact statement at the Aylesbury Crown Court before Cowell was sentenced, Riley’s devastated mother Grazyna Ferguson said: “When you were growing and smiling you melted so many hearts, you had developed into a beautiful little man.”
The court had previously been told how Cowell had complained to his neighbours about their children playing on his driveway but he claimed he only spoke to them because he was concerned for their welfare.
Prosecutors also alleged the driver had been making a point to another child at the scene when the crash happened.
Jurors previously convicted Cowell of a single charge of causing death by careless driving, with him now being sentenced for his “horrendous” crime.
Speaking outside of court, Riley’s devastated mother Grazyna was joined by her husband Barry, saying: “Nothing is going to bring our boy back.
“No custodial sentence, no trial nothing, that could have been avoided if the acceptance at the beginning for the actions had been admitted from the beginning we wouldn’t have to be here speaking.”
Grieving dad Barry added: “It has been very difficult it has never been about a custodial sentence as my wife has said.
“It was more for the ownership of the driver that he has done something wrong from the very beginning.
“To us it was about respect for our Riley so he can lay in peace and the guy to actually own up to what he has done that is all we wanted.”
During the trial, jurors heard how Cowell had left his home in Tewkesbury Road, Milton Keynes, Bucks, on June 7 to run an errand and had returned shortly after. Neighbours saw his car slow down as he turned into the shared driveway before crashing into Riley.
“This young boy lost his life because the defendant was fed up with the young kids playing on the driveway,” said Judge Francis Sheridan.
“He was focused on a young child because he wanted to get up close to her and make the point, ‘What are you doing on my driveway again?’
“Had he been looking forwards, he would have seen this little boy,” said Judge Sheridan, referring to young Riley.
“It was arrogant and unnecessary driving and, as a result, the Fergusons have lost their only son.
“He should never have lost his life. He was there to be seen as the experts agreed. To drive over his head is just horrendous.”
The judge added: “I wish to pay tribute to Mr and Mrs Ferguson for their immense dignity throughout these proceedings. They have sat through all the detail to hear who was responsible for the death of their only son without any interruptions.
“He could not have parents to be more proud of him or him of them.”
The judge, sitting at Aylesbury crown court, heard that Cowell had asked Riley’s parents the night before the accident not to allow the children to play on his side of the shared driveway in Woodspring Hill, Milton Keynes, as he was “concerned for their welfare”.
Alan Blake, prosecuting Cowell, told the court that the defendant had driven on to the driveway to confront the other child about playing on his side of the drive when he ploughed into Riley. However, Cowell said he did not see Riley when he pulled onto the driveway on June 7.
“Mr Cowell said he had gone out to visit a friend,” said the judge.
“He had come back and on the return he said he saw the other child on the driveway and he turned left and proceeded to drive at three or four miles per hour. He said he felt a bump and he stopped.
“Was he making the point and focusing on the other child to tell her to get off the drive and then ran over Riley’s head?,” added the judge. ”That is what the prosecution says happened.”
Gavin Hernandez, District Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “Cowell maintained that he did not see Riley and that he had conducted all reasonable observations.
“However, children regularly played and left their bikes and toys on the shared driveway. In fact, it was a source of concern and frustration to Cowell. There was a child plainly visible at the mouth of the drive as he approached.
“For these reasons he should have been alert to the possibility of another hazard or obstruction and should have proceeded with maximum care and attention. This was not just a tragic accident, but a death caused by Cowell’s driving.
“This case highlights the serious consequences of failing to be alert and prepared for unexpected or challenging driving conditions even at low speed.
“Holding a driving licence brings with it a high degree of responsibility that should always be at the forefront of every driver’s mind.”
RIP Little Riley. Such a tragedy.
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