A disqualified driver has been found guilty of causing the death of a “happy and loving” five-year-old who fell under the wheels of his van’s trailer.
Darren Jacques was halfway through a 42-month ban for drink-driving when he pulled up outside a shop in his work van to buy a bottle of beer.
While in the shop, five-year-old Layton Darwood climbed onto the trailer. He fell off as Jacques began to drive away.
Layton died in hospital following the incident in Fenham, Newcastle, in August 2020.
Jacques – who initially gave police a false name – was later charged with causing death by driving while disqualified.
The 42-year-old was found guilty on Monday following a six-day trial.
In a statement following the verdict, Layton’s mother Stephany said: “We are devastated by what happened and miss Layton beyond words.
“He was a loving, happy little boy with his whole life ahead of him and our worst nightmare came true the day we lost him.
“Although some sort of justice has been served, it’s a very bittersweet situation.
“It has taken a long, hard three years, with many setbacks and challenges along the way.”
Layton was rushed to hospital after the incident, but later died from his injuries.
While Layton was receiving treatment, Jacques provided a false name to police.
Telecoms data recovered by police revealed contact between Jacques and his employer in the moments following the incident, revealed he had been given details of another man to supply to police.
He lied about his name for two hours, but confessed his real identity after police requested that he provide a fingerprint with a mobile scanner.
Jacques, of Hutton Hill, Penrith, will be sentenced on 4 December.
Sergeant Russell Surrey of Northumbria Police said: “To say this case has been devastating would be a complete understatement as losing Layton has caused this family unimaginable pain and suffering no one should ever have to go through.
“I would like to praise the strength and resilience they have shown throughout the investigation and subsequent court proceedings.
“I really hope today can act as that first step towards the closure they deserve and help them move forward from this awful, tragic incident.
“I am pleased the jury saw through the excuses and lies told by Darren Jacques.
“Despite being banned from the roads he was brazenly driving in a work capacity and was even in charge of a large, heavy-duty vehicle which he wasn’t trained or qualified to operate.
“Not only that, but instead of admitting what he did, Jacques supplied attending officers with the details of another person in an attempt to cover his tracks, but our roadside checks caught him in the act.”