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UPDATED: Driver guilty of killing Jack Bellis in fatal crash
Updated 7:41am Thursday 27th March 2014 in News
A HIGHLY qualified driver for the Army has been found guilty of killing Warrington teenager Jack Bellis in a crash at a 'boy racer club' organised on Facebook.
Gareth David Owen Jones, aged 23, of Cradley, Widnes, was found guilty of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving by a jury at Chester Crown Court today, Wednesday lunchtime.
The decision was unanimous, after seven-and-a-half hours of deliberations.
Jones was found not guilty on a separate count of causing death by dangerous driving.
He had denied both charges.
Judge Thomas Teague QC warned the defendant he faces prison and that the case came 'as close to dangerous driving as you can get'.
"I take the view that this falls into the highest category of cases of driving without due care and attention, those that are described as falling just short of causing death by dangerous driving," said Judge Teague, addressing Jones, who remained impassive as the verdict was delivered.
"(This is) as close as it gets, in my opinion.
"I think it falls into the most serious category of that offence.
"That means you must expect an immediate custodial sentence.
"This is a very serious case."
Jones, wearing a shirt, tie and tweed jacket, nodded in the dock.
The fatal crash happened at a 'car cruising club' next to an industrial estate off Warrington Road in Runcorn, organised on Facebook, on October 14, 2012.
Witnesses reported seeing cars in 'rolling races', travelling of speeds estimated to be up to 130mph in the 40mph zone.
The court heard Jones, who has been in the Army since 2007, passing every driving qualification suitable to his rank, pulled a 'sudden, dangerous manoeuvre', when 'showing off' his 'performance car', a Ford Focus ST.
The sharp left turn into the entrance way to Domino Court at 10.20pm caused 19-year-old Mr Bellis, riding a yellow Suzuki dRZ 400 motorbike, to smash headlong into the passenger side of the car as it turned, causing fatal injuries.
Defence barristers had argued Jones had not been driving carelessly, or racing, and that Mr Bellis was to blame for the crash.
Peter Hussey, prosecuting, said Mr Bellis had also been driving in a risky manner at high speeds, but the sudden turn by Jones left him with 'no chance' of avoiding the collision.
The hearing was adjourned for sentence at Liverpool Crown Court on April 16.
Jones, who has no previous convictions, was released on unconditional bail.
He has been banned from driving while he awaits sentence.