Legal loophole allows ‘killer car’ owner to escape prosecution

Legal loophole allows ‘killer car’ owner to escape prosecution

Heartbroken parents whose toddler was killed by a runaway Range Rover lose their battle to bring criminal charges against the ‘negligent’ driver who failed to apply the handbrake properlyPearl Black, 22 months, was killed after being struck by a Range Rover in 2017Andrew Williams had parked his 2.6-tonne car on a driveway further up the…


Heartbroken parents whose toddler was killed by a runaway Range Rover lose their battle to bring criminal charges against the ‘negligent’ driver who failed to apply the handbrake properly

  • Pearl Black, 22 months, was killed after being struck by a Range Rover in 2017
  • Andrew Williams had parked his 2.6-tonne car on a driveway further up the hill
  • Williams, 52, only partially engaged the handbrake and left the vehicle in neutral
  • Pearl’s parents Paul and Gemma slammed the decision not to prosecute Williams

Pearl Black, pictured, died after she was crushed by a runaway Range Rover near her home in Merthyr Tydfil

Pearl Black, pictured, died after she was crushed by a runaway Range Rover near her home in Merthyr Tydfil

The heartbroken parents of a toddler killed by a runaway Range Rover have lost a battle for criminal charges against the driver.

Pearl Black, aged 22 months, died from her injuries after the driverless Range Rover ran down a hill as she walked home from the park with her father and baby brother.

Driver Andrew Williams, 52, parked it on his driveway on a nearby hill – but was not charged because of a legal loophole.

An inquest heard the handbrake wasn’t applied properly and the 4×4 was not in park mode – allowing the vehicle to smash into the opposite wall.

But a ‘legal loophole’ meant that because the car started rolling on private land no charges would be brought.

Pearl’s father, Paul, 50, a singer who appeared on TV show The Voice, called for criminal charges to be brought against Williams.

The Crown Prosecution Service found the case failed to meet the ‘evidential test’ for prosecution.

Now Mr Black and wife Gemma have lost a fresh appeal against the decision not to bring manslaughter charges.

Paul and Gemma Black, pictured with their son, Ace, left, and new daughter Beatrix, right, have expressed outraged after the owner of the Range Rover Andrew Williams avoided prosecution because he  had parked his car on his drive way

Paul and Gemma Black, pictured with their son, Ace, left, and new daughter Beatrix, right, have expressed outraged after the owner of the Range Rover Andrew Williams avoided prosecution because he  had parked his car on his drive way

The 2.6 tonne Range Rover rolled down this hill and hit the toddler in August 2017

The 2.6 tonne Range Rover rolled down this hill and hit the toddler in August 2017

Andrew Williams, pictured, was facing charges of gross negligence manslaughter, causing death by driving without due care and attention and wanton and furious driving. However, the Crown Prosecution Service said Williams made a 'serious mistake' in not securing his car but had taken 'reasonable steps to avert the risk'

Andrew Williams, pictured, was facing charges of gross negligence manslaughter, causing death by driving without due care and attention and wanton and furious driving. However, the Crown Prosecution Service said Williams made a ‘serious mistake’ in not securing his car but had taken ‘reasonable steps to avert the risk’

Mr and Mrs Black, pictured said: ''Once again we've been denied the justice we deserve for our girl because of a legality. There is no question that Pearl was snatched away from us at 22 months because of human error. The police know this, the CPS know this and we as a family know this all too well. It's a really tough pill to swallow'

Mr and Mrs Black, pictured said: ”Once again we’ve been denied the justice we deserve for our girl because of a legality. There is no question that Pearl was snatched away from us at 22 months because of human error. The police know this, the CPS know this and we as a family know this all too well. It’s a really tough pill to swallow’

Mr Black had previously appeared on the BBC talent show 'The Voice'

Mr Black had previously appeared on the BBC talent show ‘The Voice’

Pearl was with her father and her eight-month-old brother Ace when the tragedy happened in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, in August 2017.

The family appealed for three potential charges to be brought – gross negligence manslaughter, causing death by driving without due care and attention and wanton and furious driving.

But Huw Rogers, senior district court prosecutor for the CPS, rejected the appeal.

In the letter he said: ‘I have reconsidered the decision made in the case, and have concluded that the decision to take no action in the case was correct.’

On gross negligence manslaughter, he said: ‘Williams’ failure to properly secure the Range Rover was a serious mistake, but does not meet the high standard for gross negligence.’

He added the driver’s failure to apply the handbrake properly was ‘negligent’ but Williams believed he had taken ‘reasonable steps to avert the risk.’

Pearl’s parents have now hit out at the decision.

Mr Black said: ‘Once again we’ve been denied the justice we deserve for our girl because of a legality.

‘There is no question that Pearl was snatched away from us at 22 months because of human error.

‘The police know this, the CPS know this and we as a family know this all too well. It’s a really tough pill to swallow’.

Mrs Black added: ‘I try to prepare for these knocks by telling myself that the worst possible thing imaginable has already happened in losing Pearl and anything else that follows is not going to hurt.

‘Lying to myself basically because knowing that her life has been ripped away from her before it has even started and our lives irreparably shattered with no accountability brings so much fresh pain and anguish it’s unbearable’.

The toddler was killed when she was struck by the runaway Range Rover which had not been parked properly by its owner in Merthyr Tydfil. The driver, Andrew Williams failed to fully engage his car's handbrake and left the vehicle in neutral while parked on private land beside a steep hill. Williams avoided prosecution due to a legal loophole

The toddler was killed when she was struck by the runaway Range Rover which had not been parked properly by its owner in Merthyr Tydfil. The driver, Andrew Williams failed to fully engage his car’s handbrake and left the vehicle in neutral while parked on private land beside a steep hill. Williams avoided prosecution due to a legal loophole

The couple, who have since welcomed a daughter named Beatrix, aged eight months, now say they will campaign for a change in the law.

Mrs Black added: ‘It won’t help us get justice for Pearl but it’ll ensure that no other family has to suffer as we are should a situation like ours ever arise again.

‘We are incredibly fortunate to have our beautiful babies, family and close friends to drag us through our really tough times and share with us in our happier moments.

‘Missing our first born, our first love, is the worst pain you could imagine.

‘We, in her honour, fight every day to make sure our remaining babies have a happy life – full of love and laughter – just as Pearl did.’

Coroner Andrew Barkley recorded a conclusion of accidental death at an inquest in Pontypridd.

 

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Parents outrage as runaway Range Rover owner escapes prosecution

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