Army driver found guilty of killing a teenager in a crash

31/03/2014

A highly qualified driver has been found guilty of killing a teenager in a crash at a so-called car-cruising club.

Chester Crown Court heard Gareth Jones and Jack Bellis were among a group of young drivers who had gathered to race on an industrial estate in Runcorn in 2012.

Peter Hussey, prosecuting, told the court: "The intention of these drivers was clear; they wanted to drive fast, to race, and to watch each other doing so."

But on the night of 14 October, Gareth Jones, aged 23 and from Cradley, Widnes, made an unexpected turn as he raced and drove into the path of Jack Bellis.

The motor bike being driven by Jack, who was from Warrington, crashed into the car's nearside and the 19 year old suffered fatal injuries.

Mr Hussey told the court: "The prosecution recognises that Jack Bellis himself was driving very fast and racing. But that, of itself, does not exonerate the defendant.

"Regardless of Jack Bellis's actions, the defendant's driving caused the fatal collision."

The jury deliberated for seven hours and found Gareth Jones guilty of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.

The hearing was adjourned for sentence at Liverpool Crown Court on April 16.

The court heard Jones had been in the Army since 2007 and had passed several driving qualifications. He has no previous convictions and has been released on unconditional bail.

He has been banned from driving while he awaits sentence.

Jackie Lamb, Senior Crown Prosecutor, with the Crown Prosecution Service Mersey-Cheshire, said: "This has been a tragic case with no winners.

"A young man is dead and another is expecting a prison sentence as the result of what anyone can see is a highly dangerous pastime.

"I'd like to thank the parents of Jack Bellis for their dignified and courageous behaviour throughout the trial, which must have been a very difficult experience for them.

"They've seen justice done but they still have to come to terms with the loss of their son.

"Gareth Jones must come to terms with the result of his actions on that night - actions that he still can't explain."