Learner driver from Rainham jailed for killing schoolboy Thomas Stone

A learner driver from Rainham who ran over and killed a 13-year-old cyclist in a private car park has been jailed for 12 months.

Nadia Roberts, 21, ploughed into schoolboy Thomas Stone when she mixed up her brake and accelerator.

The victim, who was playing in the car park with four friends, was knocked off his bike and trapped under her Toyota Celica where he died from asphyxiation.

At the time Roberts, from Cowper Road, was having an unofficial driving lesson from her boyfriend Mark Headley, 37, who has been jailed for eight months for his part in the offence.

Police arrived at the scene in Bell Farm Avenue, Dagenham, last May 17, to find her crying hysterically and trying to get the victim to respond.

She later admitted causing death by careless driving and driving without a license or insurance, while Headley, also from Cowper Road, admitted aiding and abetting her in driving without a license or insurance.

In a statement read out in court, the boy’s mother Jane Gelderbloem said the words did not exist to express what she had lost.

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She said Thomas was a popular child who had “never complained” despite suffering constant pain from idiopathic arthritis.

Miss Gelderbloem added: “He was a perfect child who loved his bed and always smiled. He was a lad with presence, always joking with his brother and sister.

“I can’t explain the loss I feel. I gave birth to Tom and the day I buried him, I buried a huge part of myself as well.”

Judge Timothy King said the case was a “tragedy” for Tom’s family and everyone who knew him.

He said: “My sympathy goes to the family in their dreadful loss. There is nothing I can say that can restore them to the position that existed before Tom’s life was cut short.

“Nothing I can say can bring him back into this world, nothing can mitigate the dreadful loss his family and friends must feel every day.”

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that Roberts, who was six months’ pregnant, had argued with her boyfriend a few minutes before the accident.

She locked herself inside the car until Headley persuaded her to open the door.

The car was only going at four miles per hour when it hit the boy.

The judge told Roberts: “You knew perfectly well that you were an uninsured, unlicensed novice behind the wheel of a motor car.

“Your driving of it was unlawful and albeit that you were not driving at speed, you didn’t need to to cause this fatality.

“It was obviously careless and inconsiderate driving because you should have contemplated other users of the parking area at the time, particularly children.

“This was not a public highway, but an area where you could expect and should have expected such young people to be.”

The judge told Headley: “You were accompanying Miss Roberts, who was approximately half your age.

“Even if she didn’t have the responsibility to refrain from this kind of behaviour, you should have had the responsibility to instruct her not to get into the car.’

Following Thomas’s death, dozens of floral tributes were left at the scene and a candle-light vigil was held by his classmates from Eastbrook School, Dagenham.

Roberts, who is now pregnant with her second child, admitted causing death by careless driving, while uninsured and without a license.

Headley pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting her in causing death by driving while uninsured and without a license.