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‘Cruise’ driver Scott Watkins jailed for killing teen in ‘act of grotesque selfishness’

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A man has been jailed for nearly ten years for killing a teenager while driving a speeding vehicle during an unregulated cruise event.

Scott Watkins, 25, lost control of the high-performance vehicle and ploughed into a group of onlookers in what sentencing judge John Potter called an “act of grotesque selfishness”.

Among those hit was 19-year-old Sophie Smith, who died of her injuries, and four other spectators who were seriously hurt.

Two, including Miss Smith’s boyfriend Jordan Chidgey, 24, now use wheelchairs.

Sophie Smith was killed by the speeding vehicle
Image:
Sophie Smith was killed by the speeding vehicle

“After the collision your behaviour showed not a shred of concern at what you had just done,” Judge Potter said.

“You failed to stop and then sped off with a view to avoid capture.”

Watkins’ BMW was one of more than 60 high-performance and modified vehicles in the 31 May event in Trafford Park, Manchester.

It saw cars speed toward what was locally known as the Magic Roudabout and spin around it in a drifting motion using excess engine power.

One spectator later said it seemed clear “something was going to happen”.

As Watkins accelerated at speed toward the roundabout he lost control of the car which almost immediately corrected its steering.

“Having no prior knowledge of that vehicle it is likely you over-compensated thus causing the vheicle to veer violently to the left,” the judge said.

“The vehicle then veers into a large group of spectators… causing the most dreadful carnage.”

Scene of collision in Manchester. Pic: Paul Warburton
Image:
The scene of the collision in Manchester. Pic: Paul Warburton

Watkins later abandoned the BMW nearby and made no comment to police when arrested. He later pleaded guilty to charges including causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving.

He was driving with no insurance at the time of the collision and his licence had been revoked.

He was sentenced to a total of nine years and nine months in prison.

After sentencing, Sophie Smith’s mother, Sue, said: “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 and youthful face again.”

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