Driver’s ram­page that could have killed boy


The Chronicle - - News - By ROB KENNEDY Court Re­porter rob.kennedy@ncjme­ @Chron­i­cleCourt

A DRIVER high af­ter in­hal­ing gas can­is­ters in his Mercedes sent a school­boy wait­ing to cross the road fly­ing into the air af­ter fall­ing into a stu­por.

Daniel Ped­die was out of con­trol be­hind the wheel af­ter con­sum­ing the com­pressed gas and ca­reered over a grassed area and into a 13-year-old stand­ing with his bike.

Shock­ing CCTV footage played in court shows the mo­ment the red Mercedes sends the boy fly­ing – and only his hel­met and good for­tune saved him from se­ri­ous in­jury or death.

A court heard Ped­die, who works for his dad’s busi­ness, had a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion for driv­ing while un­fit in 2014.

But now the 32-year-old, who ad­mit­ted dan­ger­ous driv­ing, has walked free from New­cas­tle Crown Court on a sus­pended sen­tence.

Pros­e­cu­tor Neil Pal­lis­ter said Ped­die went to Costco, on Man­dela Way, Gateshead, around noon on July 17 last year, where he bought six 300ml com­pressed gas can­is­ters.

He re­turned to his car and some time later mem­bers of the pub­lic re­ported con­cerns about him. A shop worker ap­proached the Mercedes and saw him in­hal­ing gas. Ped­die ap­peared “obliv­i­ous” to their pres­ence, de­spite them shout­ing and even open­ing the door.

Af­ter spot­ting gas can­is­ters in the pas­sen­ger footwell the worker was con­cerned about his fit­ness to drive and so took the car key from him.

He con­tin­ued in­hal­ing, briefly got out, then used an­other set of keys to start the en­gine and drive off.

Po­lice were in­formed but soon af­ter­wards, an­other wit­ness saw him parked up on nearby Handy Drive and he had his head tilted back and his mouth open. Around 3.50pm, a man was driv­ing along Kingsway North, Team Val­ley, when he no­ticed the red Mercedes in front of him and saw it jolt to­wards a kerb a cou­ple of times.

Mr Pal­lis­ter said: “The de­fen­dant was seen to be lean­ing left as if try­ing to reach for some­thing from the footwell and the ve­hi­cle then hit the near­side kerb then cor­rected it­self again.

“The de­fen­dant was ap­proach­ing a round­about junc­tion, turned a sharp left, mounted the kerb, drove across a grassed area and col­lided with a 13-year-old who was stood with his bike, wait­ing to cross the road.

“He was thrown into the air and landed on the ground, hit­ting his head on the ground.”

Ped­die’s car then con­tin­ued into the op­po­site car­riage­way, col­lid­ing with a car which was sta­tion­ary in a queue of traf­fic and that man’s car was knocked back into an­other ve­hi­cle.

He was found to have been in­hal­ing “Dust Off” com­pressed gas which con­tains di­flouroethane, which can cause eu­pho­ria, am­ne­sia, lead to a state of stu­por and drowsi­ness, loss of con­scious­ness or death.

The 13-year-old, who was lucky to es­cape with aches and pains and bruis­ing and whose bike and hel­met had to be re­placed, said in a vic­tim im­pact state­ment: “I feel scared, I thought I was in a safe place. I feel scared of drivers on the road or be­ing near a road. If I had not been wear­ing a hel­met I could have been killed.”

Ped­die, of Hen­son Close, Washington, was sen­tenced to nine months sus­pended for two years, with a com­mu­nity or­der, 150 hours’ un­paid work, £300 com­pen­sa­tion and a three-year driv­ing ban. Recorder John Thack­ray told him: “No­body who has seen that footage could be any­thing other than shocked by the sight of the young boy fly­ing up into the air, over your bon­net.”

Ped­die had been con­victed of driv­ing while un­fit in 2014 af­ter hit­ting two cars in a car park while he had di­azepam and codeine in his sys­tem. The court heard he had been trau­ma­tised by the death of his brother and John Wilkin­son, de­fend­ing, said there was an­other side to him.

“There are a num­ber of glow­ing and ex­tremely help­ful char­ac­ter ref­er­ences,” he said. “The de­fen­dant’s fa­ther, who owns the busi­ness re­ferred to, is sit­ting in court and he can give ev­i­dence about the de­fen­dant’s role in the com­pany and, more par­tic­u­larly, how if the worse were to hap­pen to­day and he were to lose his liberty, how that will have an im­pact on the com­pany. He has got a re­spon­si­ble job within the com­pany, he is a ser­vice man­ager.”

No­body could be any­thing other than shocked by the sight of the young boy fly­ing up into the air, over your bon­net.

Daniel Ped­die

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