A MAN who caused the death of a teenager while showing off his driving has been sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison and banned from driving for 14 years.

Scott Watkins, aged 25, of Worsley Road North, Salford, lost control of the BMW he was driving at a “spontaneous, unauthorised” car meet in Trafford at around 9.50pm, on May 31.

Watkins was trying to "drift" the vehicle around a roundabout on Europa Way, Trafford Park, but he veered off-course and “ploughed” into pedestrians.

Seven people were taken to hospital with injuries, including 19-year-old Sophie Louise Smith, from Radcliffe, who died the following day.

Following the incident, Mr Watkins drove away from the scene, and was briefly pursued by another driver.

The Bolton News:

Scott Watkins, of Worsley Road North, Little Hulton, has been sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison.

It was later revealed to police that he was driving someone else’s car and was uninsured and driving with a revoked licence.

Following Mr Watkin’s sentencing Sophie’s mother, Sue Patel, said: “With Scott Watkins receiving a custodial sentence, his family will have the privilege of visiting him.

“We shall have the privilege of visiting our beloved Sophie only at a graveside.

“When the accused is released from custody his family will have the privilege of welcoming him home.

“Although Sophie will always be in our hearts, we shall never have the privilege of welcoming her back home.

“The sun will never shine on Sophie’s beautiful, youthful face again.”

The Bolton News:

Sophie Louise Smith, 19, was killed when Scott Watkins lost control of his car and mounted a pavement.

As well as pleading guilty to death by dangerous driving, Watkins also admitted his guilt to charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, after leaving four people in hospital with what judge John Potter called “life-changing” damage.

He was also guilty of both failing to stop and failing to report a road traffic collision.

Those injured include Colin Burton, Helen Lord, Sarah Morrison and Jordan Chidgey, Sophie’s boyfriend, who attended Minshull Street Crown Court in a wheelchair because of the incident.

Following the sentencing, a statement was released on behalf of Mr Chidgey and his family, which said: “On May 31, 2018, the world changed forever when unlicensed and uninsured Watkins ploughed into bystanders, leaving them like skittles in a bowling alley, whilst he sped off to avoid capture.

“As a result of the injuries, Sophie lost her life, Jordan lost his girlfriend and soulmate, and four were left with life changing injuries.

“Whatever the sentence, it will, not be long enough and will not take away the physical and mental pain that will continue along with further surgery and rehabilitation for the rest of their lives, which Watkins has caused, and nor will it bring Sophie back.

“Sophie’s hugs and smile would light up the darkest moments and we just wish she were here to do that now.”

The Bolton News:

Sophie's colleagues at Costa Coffee, Lower Bridgeman Street, Bolton attended a vigil at the crash site on June 1.

Sophie worked at Costa Coffee in Bolton and, following her death, her colleagues held a vigil to remember her at the scene of the incident.

Defending, Michael Brady pointed to the fact that Watkins had pleaded guilty in his earlier hearings.

He called the defendant a “fundamentally decent man” and he held “bitter regret for those he has affected”.

Summing up, Judge Potter said: “The responsibly for Sophie Smith’s death and the injury caused to these witnesses lies squarely with you Mr Watkins.

“Your acts visited very great pain on each of those harmed and caused a terrible to descend on all, of those closest to Miss Smith, which is unlikely to every be alleviated.

“Miss Smith could look forward to a life where here many gifts flourished.”

He called Watkin’s decision to drive the car in the way he did “an act of grotesque selfishness” and said Miss Smith’s death meant “her parents, her boyfriend and her family now have a hole in their lives”.

The judge also explained the significance of the roundabout where the incident occurred, saying it was known by car enthusiasts as the “magic roundabout” because it was a place where people would often try manoeuvres.

He added: “You got into the vehicle and drove off down Europa Way towards the magic roundabout. You were in a car you had never driven before but you decided to drive it – causing serious risk to others – in a dangerous fashion.”

In his statement, prosecutor Rob Hall said: “Mr Watkins drove a BMW 330 motor car on Europa Way, Trafford dangerously and while uninsured and without a driver’s licence.

“Mr Watkins lost control of the vehicle, mounted the pavement and collided with a group of observers, resulting in the death of Sophie Smith, 19, and the serious injury of others.”

Watkins had lost his driving licence, which he had been awarded after passing his test in 2016, after a series of offences, including driving with no insurance.

Mr Hall explained that the area of road on Europa Way chosen for the meet-up included a 500-metre section – on which the speed limit was 30mph – which drivers used to drive “continuously back and forth” between a pair of roundabouts.

Some of the drivers reached a high-speed and used the handbrake in their cars to “drift”, meaning the vehicles skidded sideways around the roundabouts and came out in the opposite direction to the one they had entered from.

It was while Watkins was trying to perform this manoeuvre that he collided with the pedestrians after the cars system detected a problem and forced the vehicle to straighten its course.

Inspector Daniel Byrne, from GMP’s Serious Collison Investigation Unit, said: “Watkins’ behaviour that night was completely reckless, putting himself and innocent members of the public in danger.

“A young life was ripped from their family and loved ones all because Watkins wanted to show off in front of people and satisfy his thrill-seeking speeding.

“His decision to then leave countless injured people lying in the street was utterly deplorable.

“I welcome this sentencing today, and I hope it can bring some comfort to Sophie’s family and friends knowing the man responsible for her death will now spend time in prison.

“I also hope this case highlights the dangers of unofficial car meets and discourages people form taking part in these events.”