A DRIVER who caused a boy to suffer life-changing injuries after a “monumental misjudgement” has been jailed.

Daniel James Jeff's actions when he crashed into the pedestrian in Melbury Avenue, Poole, had “catastrophic consequences”.

Despite seeing the child in the road, he did not apply the brake, instead sounding his horn.

Following the initial impact, the boy was carried on the bonnet of Jeff’s car before being thrown from the vehicle.

He was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency operations having sustained serious injuries, including a brain injury.

Jeff, 28, failed to stop at the scene of the collision, instead driving on and asking his partner, who was in the car, to call police.

The offender returned to his home where he was arrested and found to be over the drug driving limit for cannabis psychoactive constituent THC.

Dorset Echo: Melbury Avenue hit and run

At a Bournemouth Crown Court sentencing hearing on June 16, Judge Brian Forster QC said the case was so serious that immediate custody was the only option available and he jailed the defendant for 28 months.

“In my judgement the collision with the pedestrian was entirely unnecessary,” said Judge Forster QC.

“You were aware someone was in the road. You made no attempt to slow down.

“What stands out is you could have slowed down but you did not do so.

“You could have steered to the right, to the offside, but you didn’t do so.”

Prosecuting, Victoria Lovett said the defendant was at the wheel of his Mercedes A180 on August 21 last year when the incident took place.

CCTV of the crash was played in court and showed the defendant fail to slow down when the boy was in front of him in the road.

The court heard Jeff, of Tollard Close, Poole, sounded his horn but did not apply the brake.

He was travelling between 24mph and 30mph prior to the crash, with sufficient space to stop his vehicle in time, Ms Lovett said.

Having attended his address, officers noticed a strong smell of cannabis and conducted a drug wipe test on the defendant, which came back positive. A subsequent sample showed he was more than three times the limit for THC.

In police interview, Jeff said he saw children in the road but thought they would move. He went on to say, “they start to split, I am trying to like squeeze through the gap”.

The defendant told police “I should have just pressed the brake but I didn’t”.

In a subsequent interview, Jeff said: “I didn’t accelerate towards him. I misjudged the situation in a moment of panic. It certainly wasn’t a road rage incident. I think about the boy every day.”

The boy required support from a ventilator and remained in intensive care until September 14, 2020, before undergoing several months of in-patient rehabilitation.

He has suffered ongoing difficulties and will have reduced opportunities in the future, the court heard.

Ms Lovett read statements from the victim and his parents. The boy’s mum said August 21 was “the worst day of our lives”.

“You changed his life and our family’s lives forever,” said the victim’s mum.

Dorset Echo: Melbury Avenue hit and run

She added: “All of this has happened as you saw our son in the road and put your hand on the horn rather than your foot on the brake.”

The victim’s statement said he wanted Jeff to know what he is going through.

His dad said: “The stress and worry you have caused my whole family is something I cannot put into words.

“I am really worried for my son’s future.”

Mitigating, John Dye said his client made a “monumental misjudgement which has had catastrophic consequences by trying to go in the gap that was not there”.

Mr Dye said the defendant takes full responsibility for his actions and he has genuine remorse. The court heard Jeff has Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Dorset Echo: Melbury Avenue hit and run

Jeff pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, drug driving, possession of cannabis and failing to stop after a collision at his first appearance in the magistrates’ court in April.

He was also disqualified from driving for four years, with a 14-month extension period, as well as a requirement to complete an extended retest should he wish to drive again.

The judge asked police to inform the relevant authorities that there is a “real concern” as to Jeff’s ability to drive on a public road.