A HIGHLY-trained driver for the Army maintains that he did not do anything wrong despite being jailed for 15 months for killing Padgate teenager Jack Bellis in a crash at a ‘boy racer club’.
Gareth David Owen Jones, aged 23, of Cradley, Widnes, was sentenced on Thursday, at Liverpool Crown Court.
Jones was found guilty of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving at Chester Crown Court on March 26.
The 19-year-old motorcyclist was killed in the crash 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 at speeds estimated to be up to 130mph in the 40mph zone.
Prosecuting Peter Hussey said: “The defendant was spoken to after the incident and he gave his account in interview.
“He maintains his driving was not dangerous and expressed remorse for the passing of Jack Bellis.”
But Judge Thomas Teague QC disagreed that this was the case and said he had only shown ‘regret’ following the death of Mr Bellis.
He added: “Remorse implies taking responsibility and there has not been any.”
The court heard how the Bellis family has struggled to come to terms with the death of Mr Bellis.
He was described by his parents Kimberly and Andrew Bellis as being his ‘dad’s right-hand man’ who ‘always looked out for his sister’.
But the court heard how Jones, who has served in Afghanistan twice, did not see the bike when he began the manoeuvre and had been travelling at relatively low speeds at that time.
It was alleged by Jones’ defence team that he had cooperated with police despite lying to them that his girlfriend was in the car with him when he was interviewed.
Defending, Geoff Whelan said: “The defendant believes he did not do anything wrong but the jury tried the defendant and he was found guilty of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.
“He knows that if he was not there that evening the accident would not have happened. The accident has had a serious effect on Mr Jones. Drink was an issue in the month after the incident as a coping mechanism.”
Summing up, Judge Teague said: “The meeting you attended on that evening was an illegal one. You knew it was illegal because the police had moved you on from at least one other location on that night.
“There is no clear evidence to suggest that you participated with the racing but you were driving at speeds in excess of the limit and you were doing so to show off.”
He continued: “You did not indicate. I’m sure of that. You also maintain that you did not see him but you should have done.
“Never the less, it is my view that it fell just short of dangerous driving.”
Judge Teague said that some witnesses had shown ‘disrespect’ to Mr Bellis after lying on oath during the trial.
Judge Teague concluded: “Jack Bellis was 19 years of age and had his full life ahead of him. He came from an excellent home and a loving family.”
Jones, who was also disqualified from driving for three years, remained impassive as he was sentenced and was led away to the cells.
SPEAKING after the sentencing, Sergeant Neil Farnworth, of the roads policing team, said this sentence should send out a strong message.
He said: "Today's sentence is the conclusion of a lengthy and thorough investigation into the tragic death of Jack Bellis.
"Our thoughts are with Jack's family and friends, and I hope this can bring some form of closure to them. I would like to thank all those involved in this case who worked tirelessly to bring about this result.
"This sentence should send out a very strong message to people that anti-social, dangerous and careless driving will not be tolerated by Cheshire Police, and we will prosecute those involved."