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Driver who killed baby while using phone is jailed for six and a half years

James Paul Davis is transferred from Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court after being charged over the death of baby Ciaran Leigh Morris. Two-week-old Ciaran was in a pram being pushed along a pavement in Brownhills by family on Easter Sunday and suffered serious injuries when the pram was hit by a car (Jacob King/PA)
James Paul Davis is transferred from Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court after being charged over the death of baby Ciaran Leigh Morris. Two-week-old Ciaran was in a pram being pushed along a pavement in Brownhills by family on Easter Sunday and suffered serious injuries when the pram was hit by a car (Jacob King/PA)

A hit-and-run driver who killed a two-week-old baby after crashing into his pram while using a phone has been jailed for six and a half years.

Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court deliberated for two hours before finding James Davis guilty of causing the death of Ciaran Morris by dangerous driving while uninsured.

Davis, who mounted the pavement in an unregistered BMW after colliding with another car, told his trial he blacked out and could not remember hitting Ciaran’s pram on High Street in Brownhills, near Walsall, on Easter Sunday last year.

James Davis
A custody image of James Davis (West Midlands Police/PA)

Passing sentence on the 35-year-old, Judge John Butterfield QC said Davis had not attempted to brake or steer before the collision.

The judge, who was told that Davis’s mobile was hidden from police for more than two months, told him: “As you drove along you allowed yourself to be avoidably distracted.

“I am sure that it was some operation of your phone because what was to happen afterwards with your phone is so highly suspicious.”

The judge also remarked on the “cruelness of fate” of the crash, which happened as Ciaran was being walked in his pram for the first time, while Davis had taken a longer route due to nice weather.

The trial heard Davis, who had a teenage passenger, had been travelling at 67mph in a 30mph zone shortly before the tragedy.

Following the impact, which left Ciaran’s mother with  broken collarbone, Davis ran off and told a passer-by he “had killed a baby and was going down for a long time”.

Opening the case against Davis last week, prosecutor James Curtis QC said: “This case concerns the tragic killing of an 18-day-old child by an act of exceptionally bad and dangerous driving by this defendant, James Davis.

“He was driving a small BMW saloon in Brownhills, Walsall – it was in a shopping area, populated by shoppers and passers-by. Driving conditions were perfect.

“Suddenly he made a manoeuvre which was to prove fatal.

“First he drifted, veered, out of his side of the road, over the centre line, and struck a car which was coming in the opposite direction, on the correct side.

“This did major damage to both cars.

“From there, the BMW swerved in a curve, on the wrong side of the road, and on to the opposite pavement, where a couple were wheeling their new baby, called Ciaran Morris.

Ciaran Morris death
Ciaran Morris was killed in the crash (West Midlands Police/PA)

“The car crashed into the the pram, before hitting the wall and inevitably stopping.

“It caused fatal injuries to the head and body of that little child, who died in hospital soon afterwards despite all attempts to save him.”

The prosecutor said of Davis: “He was fully fit, and he was clear-headed enough, the Crown say, to invent what we say is a false defence.

“The Crown say there is no medical excuse for this driving at all – that is fabrication.”

Ciaran Morris death
Flowers left at the scene on High Street, Brownhills, in tribute to Ciaran (Jacob King/PA)

During his evidence, Davis accepted reaching 67mph in a 30mph area but said he was driving within the speed limit when the crash occurred.

He told the court: “The last thing I remember was going starry-eyed. I can’t remember any of it. It’s like everything went blank.”

Davis, of Croxtalls Avenue, Walsall, was told he is likely to serve half his sentence before being released on licence. He was also banned from driving for seven years and three months.

After he was found guilty, it emerged that Davis had made 11 previous court appearances for 35 offences, including driving without insurance in 2003, twice in 2004 and again in 2006, drug-dealing, driving while uninsured, drink-driving and theft of a vehicle.

Mr Curtis summarised a victim impact statement, which he described as “utterly harrowing”, made by Ciaran’s parents, Codie Holyman and Cameron Morris.

The court was told Ciaran’s mother was so traumatised she did not initially realise she had suffered a broken collarbone.

Mr Curtis said Ciaran was born on March 17 last year, adding: “Of course when she (Codie) first held him in her arms she was in a state of absolute joy and overwhelming love.”

Addressing Codie’s view of the day her son was killed, Mr Curtis continued: “She feels that she was unable to protect little Ciaran from what happened that day.

“It was the first time they had gone out with the new pram and they were very proud to be walking out with their little boy.

“But as they put it in their own words ‘The heart is forever missing a precious piece’.”