A hit-and-run driver has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for crashing into a pram, killing a two-week-old baby boy.
James Davis, 35, crashed into 18-day-old Ciaran Leigh Morris on High Street in Brownhills, near Walsall, and then ran out of his white BMW 1 Series 116d.
Davis was seen speeding through the streets of Brownhills when he hit a Ford B-Max and then mounted the pavement on the opposite side of the road, before crashing into the baby on Easter Sunday last year.
The impact of his car killed baby Ciaran, who was with his mother and father, Codie Holyman and Camaron Morris.
Davis fled to his girlfriend’s Bloxwich home and called police on himself 40 minutes after the crash.
Today, Davis was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and causing the death of Ciaran Morris by driving while uninsured.
Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court found him guilty after two hours and six minutes of deliberation.
Sentencing, Judge John Butterfield QC, said: ‘April 4 last year was a time of lockdown but it was a lovely day and people took advantage of being outdoors.
‘Two of those were Codie Holyman and Camaron Morris. They had much to be happy about. They were with friends.
‘They were also with baby Ciaran who they had just two weeks earlier.
‘They were taking him out in his new pram. They could be forgiven for believing that their future was as bright as the weather that day.
‘I am sorry to say that in the space of a few terrible moments, all that was taken away from them. It is your actions that were responsible for that.
‘You had no reason to be driving down the high street. If Ciaran’s parent were just a few steps behind, it wouldn’t have happened. But it did.
‘Codie suffered a broken collarbone and Ciaran’s push chair was pinned in front of your car and the shop wall. Ciaran suffered injuries he couldn’t survive and his life ended.
‘You fled the scene and offered no words of comfort or any apology or explanation.
‘You claimed you had blacked out due to a coughing fit, the medical evidence made clear how unlikely that was.
‘In time, you were traumatised at the thought you had killed a baby.
‘Codie Holyman said “we were heartbroken, her broken collarbone on the day didn’t even register and she is fearful of every passing car. My heart is forever missing a precious piece”.
‘Nothing that I can say or do will bring Ciaran back.’
The court also heard Davis had 27 previous convictions including drink-driving, drug dealing and driving without insurance.
Prosecutor James Curtis QC, added: ‘Codie Holyman was 18-years-old when she gave birth to Ciaran, she was in an absolute state of joy.
‘When they were able to take him home, he melted the hearts of the family.
‘She feels she was unable to protect Ciaran from what happened.
‘Other than that, she finds it naturally difficult to talk about what happened. She was, even after his death, reluctant to let him go.
The effect on her is that when she is in traffic, she is terrified. She tries to carry on as best she can as does the father.
‘But, as they put it, their heart will be forever missing a piece.
‘It is important to the parents to convey to James Davis how much pain and suffering he has conflicted.’
Nicholas Syfret QC, defending, said: ‘If the clock could be turned back, he would do that in every way he could.
‘James had said he fainted or had a blackout. The prosecution say that was an invented story to avoid the consequences of momentary inattention.
‘It is not inconsistent to find that there was some impediment in the seconds before the collision with the car driven in the opposite direction.
‘Otherwise, the why of this accident is never explained.’
During his trial, Davis said that he blacked out after a coughing fit and could not remember hitting Ciaran’s pram.
The trial heard Davis, who had a teenage passenger, had been travelling at 67mph in a 30mph zone shortly before the fatal crash.
Following the tragedy, the 35-year-old ran off and told a passer-by he ‘had killed a baby and was going down for a long time’.
The court was told Davis left the scene after the smash before stopping a passer-by in Pelsall Lane and asking to use their mobile phone to dial 999.
He was arrested after telling police he was at his girlfriend’s Bloxwich home, where he had gone to see his two-year-old daughter.
Police bodycam footage played to the court showed Davis telling PC Tom Rust as he was arrested: ‘A baby, f***s sake. I’m sorry bab. I blacked out, I was doing 20mph.
‘I weren’t even speeding or nothing. I blacked out. I aint killed no one on purpose. F***ing hell man.
‘I accept I’m going to prison if somebody’s died… People were screaming “I killed a baby” so I just wanted to see my baby before I go.’
Tests later revealed Davis had cannabis in his bloodstream.
He had 1.7mg of THC in 1 litre of blood. The legal limit is 2mg. There was no alcohol in his system following the crash, the court heard.
Opening the case against Davis last week, prosecutor James Curtis QC said: ‘This case concerns the tragic killing of an 18-day-old child by an act of exceptionally bad and dangerous driving by this defendant, James Davis.
‘He was driving a small BMW saloon in Brownhills, Walsall — it was in a shopping area, populated by shoppers and passers-by. Driving conditions were perfect.
‘Suddenly he made a manoeuvre which was to prove fatal.
‘First, he drifted, veered, out of his side of the road, over the centre line, and struck a car which was coming in the opposite direction, on the correct side.
‘This did major damage to both cars.
‘From there, the BMW swerved in a curve, on the wrong side of the road, and on to the opposite pavement, where a couple were wheeling their new baby, called Ciaran Morris.
‘The car crashed into the pushchair, the pram, before hitting the wall and inevitably stopping.
‘It caused fatal injuries to the head and body of that little child, who died in hospital soon afterwards despite all attempts to save him.’
In the aftermath of the crash, frantic Mr Morris was heard to scream at Davis: ‘You just killed my son.’
Ciaran suffered fatal injuries to his head and body including a fractured skull. He was rushed to Walsall Manor Hospital but medics pronounced him dead at 5.30pm after being unable to re-start his heart.
His mother, Ms Holyman, suffered a broken collar bone and a bruised foot and has constant back pain as a result of the crash.
The prosecutor said of Davis: ‘He was fully fit, and he was clear-headed enough, the Crown say, to invent what we say is a false defence.
‘The Crown say there is no medical excuse for this driving at all — that is fabrication.’
During his evidence, Davis accepted reaching 67mph in a 30mph area but said he was driving within the speed limit when the crash occurred.
He claimed an unexpected ‘coughing fit’ made him pass out at the wheel moments before the fatal smash.
He told the court: ‘The last thing I remember was going starry-eyed. I can’t remember any of it. It’s like everything went blank.’