Dad whose home was wrecked by boy tells court not to jail him

A dad who was sat downstairs when a car being driven by a 14-year-old boy smashed into his home says it has ‘absolutely ruined’ his family – but that he didn’t want the youngster to go to prison.

Chris McNeill said his and his family’s lives had been turned upside down by the incident in Grampian Way, Sinfin[1], on February 25. The 42-year-old, his fiancee and their two children, aged 11 and six, have spent the weeks since the incident, which have included his son’s sixth birthday, in a single hotel room.

Initially it looked like their home and the one next door would have to be demolished but a new structural assessment states it can be saved. Mr McNeill, who has lived in his three-bedroom townhouse for 12 years, said outside court that he was watching TV in the living room when the car hit the house, rupturing gas, electricity and water pipes.

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He has had to spend £17,000 on rental accommodation for the next year while the house is repaired over several months. He said: “It’s just turned our whole lives upside down.

“It’s absolutely ruined us. I have had a lot of stress because I was downstairs when it happened. I saw the impact, I saw the crash, it took out gas, water, and electricity pipes. I have relived that so many times. It is one of those things where you think, did we do anything wrong, or could we have done anything differently?

“Every time we go back inside the house, once a week, as well as bringing back mental stress, we find new cracks. The house could have fallen down. We could have all been killed, so you have to count your blessings.”

The 14-year-old responsible appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court[3] on Friday to be sentenced. The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, took a Volkswagen Sharan and reached speeds in excess of 30mph before crashing into the houses.

He was given a 12-month referral order and disqualified from driving for two years At the hearing on Friday, Mr McNeill told magistrates that he did not wish for the boy, from Derby, to be given a custodial sentence.

The boy had already pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking without consent and driving without a licence or insurance. Emma Price, prosecuting, told the court that the boy reached speeds “well in excess” of the 30mph limit and was seen by police going the wrong way around a roundabout, before losing control.

He sustained minor injuries in the crash. She said: “He crashed into a property, causing an unimaginable amount of damage.

“He admitted to taking the vehicle without consent and driving it away before eventually losing control and crashing, causing significant damage. He said he was stupid to do what he did.”

Speaking in court, the boy, dressed in a grey tracksuit and white trainers, said: “I should not have done it because it was not the right thing to do. I could have lost my life. I could have injured or endangered other people.”

Justin Ablott, defending[4], said the boy was a “young man who knows very much that what he did that evening was wrong”, and who felt “genuine remorse and regret”. Paul Dickerson, chairman of the bench, said it was an “unthinkable” and “horrendous” situation.

He said: “A victim in attendance has made a gracious plea to the bench for the defendant not to go to prison, which we have taken into consideration. Remorse has been shown previously and today.

“We, therefore, believe that the sentence appropriate is a referral order, and this will be given for 12 months, in view of the situation.” The boy was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £111 victim surcharge.


  1. ^ Grampian Way, Sinfin (
  2. ^ Do you think the TV Licence fee should be scrapped? (
  3. ^ Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court (
  4. ^ Justin Ablott, defending (

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