Careless driver who killed toddler is spared jail

Darren Conway
Darren Conway

A careless driver who killed a toddler when his car careered into his pram walked free from court yesterday after a judge suspended his six-month jail term.

Judge Piers Grant told 32-year-old Darren Conway he was suspending the jail sentence because he had pleaded guilty, had expressed genuine remorse and because his culpability in not fully engaging his handbrake was low.

As the mother and foster parents of Rham Gavriel Alvarez sat listening just a few feet away in the public gallery at Newtownards Crown Court, the judge said it was widely accepted that no matter what approach the court took, “human life cannot be restored nor can its loss be measured by the length of a prison sentence”.

Judge Grant told the court it was clear from their “moving, courageous and dignified” victim impact statements that their loss was “clearly enormous, has had a devastating effect”.

“Their grief at the loss of a little boy who was effectively a son to both families will remain acute for a very long time, if not for the rest of their lives,” said the judge, adding that Rham’s death was “an irreplaceable loss”.

He told the court: “It is quite clear that this little boy was a source of great joy to both sets of parents and their families.”

Halfway through the first day of his trial last month shop fitter Conway, from Rutherglen Gardens in Bangor, pleaded guilty to causing Rham’s death by careless driving on the Comber Road in Dundonald on December 29, 2012.

Judge Grant recounted how Rham’s mother Imelda Alvarez was pushing his buggy along the Comber Road in Dundonald when Conway’s Volkswagen Golf “careered” into them, wedging the pram and her between the rear bumper and a fence.

The car had rolled backwards from Limetree Residential Home and across the road, causing “catastrophic” injuries to the boy which would prove fatal.

Rham was two years and five months old at the time.

As well as the suspended jail term, Conway was banned from driving for three years.