An “arrogant” motorist who was “sick and tired” of children playing on his driveway killed his neighbour’s five-year-old son by running him over a jury has ruled.
The tragic parents of Riley Ferguson wept in court as the jurors returned the guilty verdict and a judge paid tribute to them for sitting through David Cowell’s trial and hearing how he killed their only son.
The court was 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. The 42-year-old also said he was focused on another child and did not see tragic Riley.
However, jurors convicted Cowell of a single charge of causing death by careless driving and he was told he must return to the same court to be sentenced for his “horrendous” crime.
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 tragic 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 Ferguson’s 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 parent’s the night before the accident not to allow the children to play on his side of the shared driveway in Woodspring Hill, Milton Keynes, Bucks., as he was “concerned for their welfare.”
Alan Blake, prosecuting Cowell, told the court that the defendant had driven onto 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 tragic 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.”
The jury of seven men and five women convicted Cowell, now of Deacon Place, Milton Keynes, of a single charge of causing death by careless driving, which judge Sheridan described as being at the “top end.”
Judge Sheridan said he could not sentence Cowell immediately because his defence barrister had injured his Achilles Tendon before the hearing and needed urgent hospital treatment. Cowell will be sentenced on October 21.
Riley’s parents declined to comment after the result but said they would pay tribute to their son after the sentencing hearing.
Speaking after the trial ended, Inspector Graeme Hughes, of Thames Valley Police, said: “This has been a tragic case which just goes to highlight how important it is that you concentrate no matter how slowly you are driving.
“The consequences of failing to do so can have a massive impact on the lives of everyone involved.”
Cowell was granted bail but he was immediately banned from driving a car and he must reside at his home address. The defendant was approached for a comment on the result after the hearing but he refused to respond when spoken to.