Teenage driver jailed for causing death of Sunderland dad Gary Wood with 'aggressive' and dangerous driving

Liam Carr, left, and Gareth Bainbridge have been jailed.
Liam Carr, left, and Gareth Bainbridge have been jailed.

A teenager has been jailed after causing the death of a popular dad in a hit-and-run then setting the car alight in an attempt to conceal evidence.

Liam Carr, 19, has been sent to prison after "aggressively" driving his Seat Ibiza at speed and ploughing into Gary Wood on the night of June 2.

Gary Wood died in June.

Gary Wood died in June.

The much-loved dad was left fighting for his life in hospital as Carr, who fled the scene, and his co-defendant Gareth Bainbridge, 39, torched the car in an attempt to cover their tracks.

The two defendants, plus Bainbridge's son Larry Bainbridge, 18, were initially charged with murder of Mr Wood, but pleaded guilty to lesser offences on the day of the trial.

Prosecutor Richard Wright, QC, told Newcastle Crown Court how an argument ensued in a car park outside of Glendale Social Club, Houghton, between Carr, the younger Bainbridge and a "heavily intoxicated" male associate.

He said that following the altercation, the two defendants got into their car and the drunk man threw a brick at the vehicle - but it flew through the window and hit Larry Bainbridge's younger relative in the head.

Mr Wood was hit by the car on Seaham Road.

Mr Wood was hit by the car on Seaham Road.

The boy was hospitalised with serious injuries, and then Gareth Bainbridge "took the law into his own hands" and decided to take revenge on the man for causing fractures to the relative's head.

Mr Wright added: "The sensible way of resolving this issue would have been to report it to the police."

Mr Wright explained how Bainbrige Snr then patrolled the area looking for the man in his VW, and driver Carr, with Bainbridge Jnr in the passenger seat, did the same in a white Seat Ibiza.

Gary Wood was with the man at his address on Seaham Road when Bainbridge Snr pulled up outside the house and began making threats.

Mr Wood told Bainbridge Snr to leave, and then threw a hammer at the car, the court heard.

Bainbridge Snr left and as Mr Wood went into the road to retrieve his hammer he was struck by the Seat Ibiza - which was travelling at excessive speed.

Mr Wright said: "He was struck in the left-hand carriageway by Liam Carr's vehicle as he headed down the road. Mr Wood was very much across the carriageway.

"After the vehicle had sped away witnesses at the scene they did what they could to help Gary Wood.

"He suffered from extensive injuries. He suffered from massive injuries that were just not survivable. He had catastrophic head injuries.

"Liam Carr had time to break or take evasive action if he had been paying attention. There was no braking or marks of swerving at the scene."

The court heard how Carr fled the scene without stopping, and then abandoned and torched the vehicle along with Bainbridge Sr - in attempt to get rid on any evidence.

Carr, of Langdon Road, Westerhope, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving, perverting the course of justice and two counts of affray.

Gareth Bainbridge, of School Road, East Rainton, admitted perverting the course of justice and two counts of affray, and Larry Bainbridge, of the same address, admitted one count of affray.

Jamie Hill, QC, defending Carr, told the court how his client had moved in with the Bainbridge family and saw Gareth Bainbridge as a father figure after his own father died two years ago.

He said: "This was a sequence of events that were totally out of character for Liam Carr.

"It seems that everything that happened after that incident is because of his loyalty for the Bainbridge family.

"He has expressed his remorse to the probation officer. For a teenager to have the maturity to say ‘I deserve to go to prison because someone lost their life’ is a great admission.

"He is a very young man of good character who has acted out of loyalty."

Toby Hedworth, QC, said that his client Gareth Bainbridge became enraged after his son was struck by the brick, and was hospitalised.

Mr Hedworth said: "He is a hard-working family man. He has worked in groundwork for many years now.

"He is mindful that he is the adult here. He accepts in his plea that he did not act in the way that he should have as a responsible adult.

"When a very drunk man had caused his son a very serious injury he was enraged by that. He suffered a fractured skull.

"Gareth Bainbridge said a lot that night but did nothing else."

Daniel Cordey, representing Larry Bainbridge, added: "He is a very young man with a good job and a good future ahead of him.

"He is a young man who works hard and is well regarded by others. This is something that occurred but is very out of character for him."

Passing sentence on the three defendants, Judge Paul Sloan said: "The road was straight and the visibility was excellent. Mr Wood was there to be seen.

"Instead of doing the decent thing and remain at the scene to seek the help of the emergency services you sped off.

"Gary Wood suffered catastrophic injuries. He died as a result of those injuries on June 4 last year.

"The vehicle was fired and deliberately set alight.

"I have read in full the victim personal statements written by the two young children of Mr Wood.

"It is clear that your actions have had a devastating effect on his family.

"No sentence could ever ease the pain that they suffer and forever will continue to suffer."

Carr was sentenced to five years and six months in a young offenders institution and was disqualified from driving for three years with an extended period of two years nine months.

Bainbridge Snr must serve 18 months in prison, and Bambridge Jnr must serve a one-year community order with a 15-day rehabilitation requirement.