‘Cheerful’ schoolboy left with ‘emotional scars’ after drug driver hit him in 70mph police chase
PUBLISHED: 13:20 21 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:23 21 December 2018
A 27-year-old man who caused life-changing injuries to an Ipswich schoolboy after hitting him with a stolen car during a police chase will have to serve just 19 months of a prison sentence.
The 11-year-old victim was walking to school with friends at around 8.30am on October 18 along Halliwell Road, Ipswich, when he was struck by a Renault Clio driven by Michael Neto – and was catapulted through the air, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Jailing Neto – who had twice the legal limit for drugs in his system – for 38 months, Judge Rupert Overbury described his driving as “one of the most appalling pieces of driving I’ve had the misfortune to watch.”
He said Neto caused “catastrophic” injuries to the victim, who suffered multiple fractures to both legs, a fractured eye socket and deep cuts to his head and had been required to use a wheelchair after leaving hospital.
Judge Overbury said the maximum sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving was five years, which he acknowledged might fall below what was expected by the victim’s family and the public.
“It is parliament which sets the maximum sentence and not the courts and I must follow the sentencing guidelines irrespective of my views and the people most closely affected by your actions,” said the judge.
He said the starting point for sentence was 54 months but he was required to reduce the sentence to 38 months because of Neto’s early guilty pleas.
Neto, who was also banned from driving for five years, will have to serve half the sentence in custody.
Neto, of Baldwin Gardens, Clerkenwell, London, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving without insurance and without a licence, possessing cannabis, failing to stop when required by a police officer and failing to stop after an accident.
The court heard Neto had been driving at 70mph in Cauldwell Hall Road during the chase, which ended when he hit a garden wall in Goring Road after driving round a right hand bend on the wrong side of the road.
Neto had run off but was arrested by police officers.
Isobel Ascherson for Neto said her client was ashamed of what he had done and had expressed genuine remorse.
She said Neto had been concerned for the condition of the boy following his arrest.
Mother’s anguish as previously ‘happy and cheerful’ son left with ‘emotional scars’
As a result of the injuries he suffered in the collision with the stolen car driven by Michael Neto, the 11-year-old victim was forced to miss competing in a national level competition, the court heard.
In a victim impact statement the boy’s mother described how her previously “happy and cheerful” son had been left with physical, psychological and emotional scars as a result of his “massive” injuries.
His family had also been badly affected by what happened, she said.
After the crash the boy underwent nine hours of surgery to repair broken bones in both legs and to “put him back together”, the court heard.
When he was discharged from hospital eight days later he had to use a wheelchair.
He also suffered serious facial injuries including, deep cuts, skin loss, swelling and bruising to his jaw and a fractured eye socket.
The injuries had caused his face to change shape and he had also suffered nerve damage which affected his lip movements.
He had also suffered cuts and bruises all over his body and nerve damage to his eyebrow.
Doctors hope he might be able to return to sporting activities.