Seal garage boss Peter Farwell jailed for killing niece’s fiancé Garry Jarrett in Ariel Atom crash in Kemsing near Sevenoaks
A garage owner who caused the death of a niece's fiancé when he lost control of a customer's high-powered sports car and hit a tree has been jailed for eight months.
A judge found Peter Farwell, 47, accelerated in the lightweight two-seater Ariel Atom car in Kemsing, near Sevenoaks, because he wanted to "show it off" to Garry Jarrett.
Both men were seriously injured, but 24-year-old Mr Jarrett, from Halstead, died in hospital six days later.
Police said his fiancée – who is Farwell's niece – had only just given birth to a son.
An Ariel Atom, similar to the one involved in the fatal crash
Farwell, of The Landway, Kemsing, admitted causing death by careless driving. He was banned from driving for two years.
His lawyer immediately indicated he intended to launch an appeal against the sentence.
Ariel Atoms are high-performance sports cars – with no roof or windows and a clearly visible chassis – and just 100 are produced each year.
"There was an immediate blow-out. The car went out of control travelling across the carriageway into trees and bushes..." - prosecutor David Povall
In tests, a supercharged Atom was said to have accelerated from 0-100mph in just 6.86 seconds.
The stripped-down motor was made famous on Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson drove one with his mouth open, completely changing the shape of his face.
The tragedy happened on September 15 last year in Childsbridge Lane, Kemsing, near to where Farwell runs Forge Garage in Seal.
Prosecutor David Povall said Farwell texted his niece Sian Farwell earlier that day saying he was servicing the car and asking her to show her fiance photos of it.
When Mr Jarrett saw the pictures, he asked if it was "supercharged" and whether he could "have a go". Farwell replied: "Yes, as a passenger."
Mr Povall said the vehicle, usually owned only by enthusiasts, had the appearance of a racing car and had the same acceleration as a 1000cc motorcycle.
Miss Farwell took Mr Jarrett to the workshop and he was taken for a ride in the car.
"It appears as the car was driven out of the 30mph zone into the national speed limit, he changed down to accelerate and reapplied the power too quickly, resulting in the rear wheels losing traction," said Mr Povall.
"It resulted in the nearside wheel hitting the kerb. There was an immediate blow-out. The car went out of control travelling across the carriageway into trees and bushes.
"The Crown is accepting that from the moment the traction was lost Mr Farwell had no means of regaining control.
"The car ended up on its side severely damaged. Both were trapped in the car."
Off-duty police officer Simon Crowley gave first aid at the scene.
Mr Jarrett was flown to the Royal London Hospital by Kent Air Ambulance, but died on September 21.
Mr Povall said Farwell admitted in a basis of plea that the accident was caused by unduly harsh acceleration and the loss of control was irrecoverable.
The maximum sentence that could be imposed was five years' imprisonment.
Judge Michael Carroll said a significant factor in the case was that the car was capable of acceleration similar to that of 1000 motorcycle.
"In other words, it is a very powerful motorcar, which you have driven once before," he told Farwell.
The victim readily accepted the offer to go out in the car as a passenger.
"Having just left the 30mph zone and at the beginning of the area covered by the national speed limit, you put your foot on the accelerator too harshly while changing gear," he added.
"This resulted in a chain of events - a spinning of the rear wheels which as a result lost traction, which led to a loss of control so that the rear offside wheel struck the kerb and instantly deflated.
"This led to loss of control of the vehicle. It veered across the road and there followed a fatal collision.
"The cause of the accident was excessively harsh acceleration by you in a very powerful vehicle.
"You are an experienced driver, but not of this powerful motor vehicle which has its own idiosyncrasies."
Addressing the harsh acceleration, the judge said: "I am satisfied the only possible reason was that you wanted to show off the vehicle and its high performance to Garry Jarrett who had enquired in a text message whether it was supercharged.
"I find that factor - what I call the showing off of that vehicle - is a major aggravating factor here, which led to the subsequent death of Garry Jarrett.
"In my judgement this case cannot properly be dealt with by way of a community order.
"Looking at the case as a whole, I find no grounds whatsoever for suspending the custodial sentence which I impose today."
Judge Carroll added: "In a case such as this, no sentence can every adequately reflect the loss of a young man such as Garry Jarrett and the effect it has had on his family and his fiancee, all of whom have acted with dignity throughout this hearing."
Charles Langley, defending, requested a certificate for bail pending an appeal against the sentence.
But the judge told him: "No, you can take it to the Court of Appeal. It is not appropriate for a judge who has just passed sentence."
After the case, PC Jamie Woodhams, from Kent Police's serious collision investigation unit, said: "This, as in all fatal collisions, was a tragic case.
"Farwell pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and was sentenced for the offence.
"The judge, His Honour Judge Carroll reminded everyone that no sentence would change the tragic outcome of this collision.
"Mr Jarrett's fiancée, Farwell's niece, had recently given birth to a son before this incident and our sympathies go out to the whole family."
Charles Langley, defending, submitted that either a community order or suspended sentence could be imposed.
"He has accepted the death, tragically, of this young man and he regrets it," he said. "He has changed completely. His remorse is overwhelming."
Commenting on the car, the judge said: "It is like a go-kart. Why did he feel it necessary to accelerate at such a rate once he left the 30mph limit?
"I suspect the answer may come back that he was seeking to impress because he knew his passenger was impressed with the fact he was being given a ride in this machine."
Mr Langley said Farwell was "not a boy racer or anything like that".
He added: "One inference may be he was showing off but it was a momentary loss of control."
Farwell suffered substantial injuries including a fractured pelvis and vertebrae and three broken ribs.
"He hopes one day his niece will be able to forgive him for what he did," said Mr Langley.
The effect on his business had been considerable. He had spent his savings on trying to keep it afloat because of his injuries and the fact he had lost his driving licence under an interim ban.
"I submit you do not need to pass an immediate custodial sentence," Mr Langley added.
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