‘Stupid and immature’ driver admits causing death of crash girl

A “stupid and immature” dangerous driver has admitted causing the death of a girl nine years after crashing into the car she was travelling in.

Cerys Edwards, then just turned one, was left paralysed, unable to breathe unaided and needing 24-hour specialist care after the car she was in was hit head-on by a Range Rover on November 11 2006.

The little girl died in October 2015, a month before her 10th birthday, after complications caused by an infection.

Medical experts concluded her death was “a consequence of her spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury sustained in collision”, a court heard on Thursday.

Antonio Boparan court case
Cerys Edwards before she was paralysed in the crash (Family/PA)

The driver of the Range Rover, Antonio Boparan, then 19, but now 32, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

The little girl’s father, Gareth Edwards, in court for Boparan’s plea, said that just a week before the crash the family had held a “big party” for Cerys’s birthday.

“But nine days later I was performing CPR on my daughter, thanks to Antonio Boparan’s selfish stupidity,” he said.

Simon Davis, prosecuting, described the case as “a short-lived piece of aggressive driving”, with Boparan driving at “greatly excessive speed”.

He said that before the accident in Streetly Lane – which runs around Sutton Park and has a 30mph limit – in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, Boporan had been travelling at up to 80mph.

Boparan was seen by other drivers overtaking two cars, immediately before the crash.

One motorist, forced to brake sharply, then watched Boparan’s speeding 4×4 “wobbling from side to side as if losing control”, added the prosecution barrister.

Boparan’s speed was such that he was unable to stop safely when a car in front of him slowed to make a right turn into Crown Lane, the court heard.

Antonio Boparan court case
The Range Rover driven by Antonio Boparan which crashed into a car carrying one-year-old Cerys Edwards (CPS/PA)

Mr Davis said: “The defendant swerved to avoid its (the car’s) rear, veering into offside lane and directly into path of oncoming traffic.”

Boparan ploughed head-on into a Jeep Cherokee driven by Cerys’s mother Tracy, and carrying her husband and their little girl “securely fastened” in a rear car seat.

Mrs Edwards had managed to bring her 4×4 to a stop, but such was Boparan’s speed at impact – calculated as being 71mph – that the family’s vehicle was “shunted” 50ft backwards, into another car behind.

Mr Davis said: “The stationary jeep was struck front and back, causing the Edwards family to be thrown around inside their vehicle.”

Mrs Edwards broke her left leg, and her spouse suffered a broken nose and rib, while a driver and passenger in the car behind suffered a broken collar bone and kneecap respectively.

However, Cerys suffered what one doctor described as a “catastrophic severance of the high spinal cord” and serious and severe head injuries.

Just after the crash, in January 2007, while awaiting trial for what was then a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, Boparan was clocked doing 95mph in a 50mph limit.

During her short lifetime, Cerys developed complications and had a catalogue of “complex needs”, said Mr Davis.

That resulted in her admission in September 2014 to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for a “deteriorating respiratory condition”.

She never left hospital again, and died just over a year later.

Her parents split up before her death.

Antonio Boparan court case
Cerys Edwards was left paralysed and brain-damaged following the crash (Family/PA)

Before sentencing, Boparan’s barrister, James Sturman, said: “This was a stupid and immature piece of bad driving at high speed over a relatively small distance by a young man, 19 at the time, then driving for six months, and he has caused devastation to Cerys Edwards and her family.”

He added that married father-of-two Boparan had been “in a hurry to get home” at the time of the crash and had “made a mistake”.

Boparan, who had a conviction for assault and violent disorder in 2015, had since tried to live “a law-abiding life”, he said.

Mr Sturman added that both his client and millionaire businessman father, Ranjit Singh Boparan, had since raised £10 million over 10 years, through setting up the Boparan Charitable Trust for children with disabilities.

Boparan’s father, the court heard, made a £200,000 payment to Cerys’s parents to buy a house suitable for the child’s needs, and attended a funeral service arranged by Mrs Edwards for the little girl.

“The boy of 19 is not the man of 32 you are sentencing today,” said Mr Sturman, adding: “It would be inhumane to return him to custody.”

Judge Melbourne Inman QC said he would be sentencing Boparan later on Thursday.

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