Stolen car driver, 15, locked up for killing pedestrian in crash

27-year-old Douglas Robertson died in the collision.
27-year-old Douglas Robertson died in the collision.
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A 15-year-old who knocked down and killed a pedestrian while driving a stolen Range Rover at 70mph in a 30mph zone and then ran off from police was detained for five years yesterday.

A judge lifted a ban on the media reporting the name of Charlie Tyers after he ruled it was in the public interest to know full details of the incident which shocked the market town of Stokesley, North Yorkshire.

Victim Douglas Robertson, 27, was dragged more than 100 yards under the powerful vehicle after Tyers lost control in snow.

Tyers, of Maltby, Middlesbrough, sobbed uncontrollably when CCTV of the moments leading up to the collision and the loud bang that followed was shown. The car smashed into a lamppost so hard the top section of the light ended in a tree 50ft away, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Mr Robertson was walking to his local club in Stokesley’s High Street on a snowy Saturday afternoon in January when he was mown down.

Police were looking for the Range Rover after they received reports earlier in the day about it being driven badly.

An officer spotted the vehicle ahead and once it had gone round a corner, he put on his siren and lights, which the defence claimed caused the driver to speed away.

David Bradshaw, prosecuting, said: “At the time the vehicle collided with the deceased he was walking along a footpath carrying an umbrella, minding his own business, making his way towards a social club.

“He was dragged 340ft over some waste ground until the vehicle went through a small wall and tree and hit the side of the working men’s club.”

Mr Robertson died at the scene.

Tyers, over 6ft tall and well-built, fled from police and asked for help at a nearby house, telling the occupants that men were chasing him, Mr Bradshaw said. He had pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at a previous hearing.

The defendant had taken the car from a house party in Stockton, Teesside, in the early hours.

After he was arrested, Tyers told police his life was over and his family would disown him. “I have killed somebody’s baby,” he said. “Oh please, Jesus, no, not this.”

Judge John Walford said the victim was a much-loved son, brother and friend whose loss had ruined the lives of his family.

“You took this Range Rover which belonged to someone else,” the judge said. “Why you took it has not been explained. You must have taken it for pure devilment, arrogantly believing you could drive it appropriately when you neither had the experience or the qualifications to do so, or not caring what might happen with you behind the wheel.

“The road conditions were treacherous and while you drove it, the car was damaged.”

Witnesses spotted the driver showing off in the Range Rover in the hours before the crash, sounding the horn to children he knew.

The judge said it was a “ghastly irony” that in sentencing he had to consider the defendant’s welfare “when you had so little regard for the welfare of others that morning”.

Tyers, described in a pre-sentence report as assertive and self-confident, was given credit for his remorse and early guilty plea. He has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since the crash.

The boy was ordered to serve five years detention and was disqualified from applying for a driving licence for five years.

Sam Hanlon, 23, from Wingate, County Durham, was a passenger in the car when it crashed. He pleaded guilty previously to aggravated vehicle taking where a death occurred and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.

Mr Robertson’s mother Jean North said in a statement: “It is impossible to find the words to describe just how much he meant to us. To have him taken from us leaves a gaping hole in our lives that no sentence can overcome.”