Teenagers convicted after death of pedestrian during high speed pursuit in Waltham Abbey

Mick Ferris
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A teenager has been convicted of murdering a man in Waltham Abbey earlier this year. A second teenager has also been convicted of manslaughter in connection with his death.

Local man Neil Darnell, 50, was found seriously injured around 10am on Friday April 16 after being hit by a car on Farm Hill Road, Waltham Abbey.

The driver failed to stop at the scene and the car was found abandoned a short while later.

CCTV footage recovered showed that two teenagers had attended Le Golden Touch barbers on Market Square that morning.

An unknown man had approached the barbers to threaten the two teenagers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, before slashing the tyres of their car. He then fled the area on a bicycle.

Despite the car having been damaged and in a dangerous condition to drive, the two teenagers then got behind the wheel of their grey BMW to pursue the man at speed.

Mr Darnell, an innocent pedestrian crossing the junction at Farm Hill Road, was struck by their car.

He died in hospital two days later as a result of his injuries. A forensic post-mortem examination found he had suffered a traumatic head injury.

On Saturday May 8, a 17-year old boy from Cheshunt was arrested in Harlow and charged with murder.

Within a week, a second 17-year-old boy from Hertford was also arrested and charged with murder.

Both teenagers stood trial at Chelmsford Crown Court and yesterday, Monday November 8, a jury found both guilty in connection with Mr Darnell’s death.

The driver of the car, was found guilty of murder.

The passenger, was found guilty of manslaughter.

Both will be sentenced in December on a date yet to be fixed.

Senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Greg Wood said: “What initially appeared to be a case of dangerous driving turned out to be much more disturbing.

“Evidence clearly showed that both the driver and passenger got behind the wheel of their car intending to cause harm to someone.

“During their pursuit, the driver drove directly at oncoming vehicles and mounted the pavement several times to deliberately try and collide with the cyclist.

“Even after they hit a completely innocent bystander, who subsequently lost his life, they continued to follow the cyclist with no regard for anyone else around them.

“At no point did they attempt to get help for the man they had fatally injured. Their only focus was to cover their involvement.

“As with any investigation where someone’s life has been cut short by the actions of others, I know this result cannot bring back the loving husband and father Neil’s family have lost.

“I hope they can take some solace knowing that our teams have worked tirelessly throughout the investigation and that those involved have been convicted of their crimes.”


Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk