Father who saw toddler daughter killed by runaway Range Rover fighting to close legal loophole

The father of a one-year-old girl killed by a runaway car says he’ll never stop fighting for a change in the law after the driver was not prosecuted due to a “loophole” in the legal system.

Pearl Black died when a Range Rover rolled down a private drive, hitting a garden wall that fell on her as she walked to a park in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, in August 2017.

An inquest in 2018 heard how the handbrake of the 2.6-tonne car had been applied at two of six notches, which was not sufficient to secure it on the steep driveway.

Pearl was described as a 'beautiful young girl’ by her father Paul (PA)

Pearl was described as a ‘beautiful young girl’ by her father Paul (PA)

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled out criminal action against the driver, and following the inquest said “the case failed to meet the evidential test” required to bring a prosecution.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on 29 November, six years on from the tragedy, Rishi Sunak offered help to the local MP Gerald Jones and Pearl’s family in their bid to change the law.

Speaking to The Independent, Pearl’s father Paul said he was determined to see a change in law – and hoped any amendment would be named after the 22-month-old.

The 55-year-old actor, who appeared on BBC’s The Voice in 2014, said he’d never want any other family to go through the pain and agony they have had to endure.

“We’ll never stop fighting,” he said. “There’ll never be closure for us, we’ll always feel the pain of injustice, but what we can do is prevent this horrible, horrible situation happen to any other family.

“Pearl’s death and the lack of any criminal case has left us in total, utter chaos and devastation. It’s ruined our lives and we’re desperate for some good to come out of this.”

Pearl’s parents Gemma and Paul have been fighting for a change in the law after the driver was not prosecuted (Paul Black)

Pearl’s parents Gemma and Paul have been fighting for a change in the law after the driver was not prosecuted (Paul Black)

Before tragedy struck, Mr Black was at his mother’s house when he left with Pearl to walk to a nearby park. But as they walked along the pavement, he saw the Range Rover hit the wall which collapsed on her daughter, who was still holding his hand.

Despite Mr Black desperately pulling parts of the wall from her small body, she later died in hospital. “I think about what happened every minute of every day,” her father said.

Pearl’s inquest heard how the Range Rover’s gear had been positioned between park and reverse, effectively putting the vehicle in neutral, before it rolled down the drive. The coroner Andrew Barkley reached a conclusion of accidental death and said the tragedy was one of “driver error”.

Flowers and a teddy bear were laid at the remains of the collapsed wall where Pearl died (PA)

Flowers and a teddy bear were laid at the remains of the collapsed wall where Pearl died (PA)

Speaking in Parliament on introducing a private bill on a change in law three years ago, Mr Jones said: “The CPS stated that it was unable to send the case to court as a glitch in the law states that the vehicle must have started its journey on a public road to make a prosecution possible under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

“Even though Pearl was killed on a public road, the fact that the vehicle started its descent from a private drive has meant that prosecution was not possible.

“If this law can be changed to prevent anyone else from suffering this injustice again, that may provide some comfort.”

On 29 November, Mr Sunak said: “I’m incredibly sorry to hear about Pearl and my thoughts, I know the whole house’s thoughts, will be with Gemma [Pearl’s mother] and Paul. I will make sure the honourable member [Mr Jones] gets a meeting with the relevant minister on the legislation as quickly as possible.”

The Crown Prosecution Service has been approached for comment.

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