Hit and run driver to go free in months

A HIT and run driver who killed a teenager and whose behaviour a judge described as despicable, cowardly and appalling is likely to serve just two and a half months in prison. Taxi driver, Neil Simpson, 50, from Bottels Road, Warboys, was told by the ju

A HIT and run driver who killed a teenager and whose behaviour a judge described as "despicable, cowardly and appalling" is likely to serve just two and a half months in prison.

Taxi driver, Neil Simpson, 50, from Bottels Road, Warboys, was told by the judge he had behaved "selfishly, coldly and without compassion" when he failed to stop after hitting Tom Jones, 17, a Ramsey Abbey pupil from The Great Whyte, Ramsey.

Tom's parents, Lynda and Chris Jones, have engaged London lawyers to pursue a civil action against Simpson and his insurers.

They are supporting a campaign to introduce an imprisonable offence of death by careless driving. Current legislation means drivers involved in fatal accidents usually face a death by dangerous driving charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, or careless driving which has a top penalty of a £2,500 fine.

Simpson's taxi struck Tom as he walked on the B1040 St Mary's Road between Ramsey and Ramsey St Mary's after leaving a sixth form party at the Lion pub in April 2005, with five other boys.

Peterborough Magistrates' Court was told following the accident Simpson repeatedly lied to the police, saying he had hit a deer in a different location. He also carried on working immediately after killing Tom, taking passengers in the damaged car and avoided the road where Tom had been hit.

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District judge Brian Loosley last week found Simpson not guilty of driving without due care and attention, saying it could not be proved that he was speeding or using his mobile phone at the exact time of the accident or simply not paying attention.

Simpson had earlier pleaded guilty to six other charges: failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident, dangerous driving and three counts of driving without insurance.

Tom's mother, Lynda and his 16-year-old sister, Rosie, wept as the judge sentenced Simpson to five months in prison and heard that only half the term must be served.

Tom was bassist with the award-winning teenage band, Inkus and captain of Ramsey Colts under-17s football team.

The road he was walking along on the night he was killed is unlit and has no footpath. Investigating police officer, Pc Stephen Edwards, told the court a dip in the road just before the accident spot was enough to unsettle a car and take it off course.

The court heard the boys moved off the road to let two cars pass, one a Peugeot 405 driven by Simpson. Seconds before they heard a crash, Tom seemed to move forward, then disappeared. The impact had thrown him into the River Nene. An inquest in November found he had drowned but was unlikely to have survived his injuries.

After the collision, the boys used the light from their mobile phones to flag down cars to help.

On Wednesday, Simpson was sentenced to four months for failing to stop after the accident, one month for dangerous driving, to be served consecutively, one month for failing to report the accident, to be served concurrently and given no separate penalties for driving without insurance.

The dangerous driving charge related to his continuing to use the car after the accident. The insurance charges relate to using another car that night, not insured as a taxi.

Simpson was banned from driving for three years and will have to retake his driving test.

He did not give evidence in court. His defence claimed he had "traumatic amnesia" and could not recall the accident.

Sentencing Simpson, the judge told him: "If you had done as you should, and stopped after the accident, you would have left this court a free man.

"You have behaved in a despicable and cowardly manner. From the position where you hit Tom, you knew that you had hit him. You could have stopped to help him and help his friends look for him. You could have used your headlights to assist with the search, you could have used one of your two mobile phones to call for help.

"You behaved selfishly, coldly and without compassion."

After giving sentence, the judge expressed sympathy for Tom's parents saying he had hoped that the court case had helped. Comforting his sobbing wife, Lynda, at the back of the crowded court, Tom's father, Chris said quietly: "I'm sorry, but it didn't.