Driver Given Six Years Jail For Stepson's Death

A dangerous driver has been jailed for six years for killing his five-year-old stepson in a car crash.

Dean Collins, 23, failed to strap Joseph Smith into a child's booster seat before he ploughed into oncoming traffic.

Joseph was sitting in the back of the car but wasn't in a child's booster seat and broke his neck in the crash in Cardiff.  

Prosecutor Janet MacDonald said: "Joseph suffered serious injuries including broken limbs, fractures to his spine, bleeds to his brain, bruising to his spleen, a perforated bowel, and loss of sight in one eye.

"Joseph was not sitting on a booster seat as required by law.

"He was six inches too short, at just 116cm. (3ft 8 ins). This impacted his chances of survival.

"The seatbelt was displaced and was across his neck and shoulder."

He died at the scene of the smash on Western Avenue in Llandaff, Cardiff - but the court heard may have survived the crash if he had been buckled in properly.

His mum Laura Bright, 23, was also in the car, but the court heard it was Collins' responsibility to ensure Joseph was properly strapped in.

Decorator Collins had passed his driving test just three months before the fatal accident and had traces of cocaine in his system.

He told police he had no memory of the crash, but admitted taking cocaine beforehand.

He denied causing death by dangerous driving but was found guilty after a six day trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

He was also found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving against two passengers in his own and two passengers in another car.

Collins of St Mellons, Cardiff, was also disqualified from driving for eight years.

Recorder of Cardiff Judge Eleri Rees told him: "You demonstrated a cavalier attitude to both your own safety and the safety of others.

"You as the responsible adult should have ensured Joseph was in a car booster seat approriate to his age.

"Driving in the opposite lane with oncoming traffic a short distance away was clearly very dangerous and bound to cause a collision.

"You have never acknowledged any fault despite the overwhelming evidence that the collision was entirely your fault.

"No sentence that I can pass can reflect the pain and suffering for all those involved."

Speaking after the sentencing, Investigating officer PC Tony Farr,  said: "This collision has had a devastating impact on so many lives.

"Collins' selfish actions cost Joseph Smith – a young boy with his whole life ahead of him – his life, shattering the worlds of all those who knew and loved him.

"The collision also left four others injured, some catastrophically.

"I cannot stress enough how dangerous vehicles can be when they are in the hands of the wrong people.

"Collins was inexperienced and evidence presented to the court showed he had taken drugs in the days or hours before the collision. Tragically, that proved to be a lethal combination.

"Collins also failed to ensure Joseph was seated securely in the vehicle – again a huge error in judgement that he will now have to live with for the rest of his life."

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