A businessman who caused the death of a 13-year-old boy in a horror crash while “showing off” in his £1.2 million Ferrari has been jailed for 18 months.
Matthew Cobden, 39, lost control of the Ferrari F50 while taking teenager Alexander Worth for a spin.
The supercar “accelerated uncontrollably” in a farm lane in North Warnborough, Hampshire, causing it to flip and throw the pair, who were not wearing seatbelts, from the vehicle, a court heard.
Cobden, owner of a car storage company, had denied causing death by careless driving, saying the Ferrari had a mechanical defect, but was convicted following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.
He was also banned from driving for two years and ordered to take an extended retest.
Sentencing Cobden, Judge Keith Cutler said: “You decided to to put your foot down, the Ferrari was unnecessarily in second gear, it could have been in first gear, and you put your foot down in order to cause a thrill for Alexander, you were showing off, that is the explanation for the accident and its consequences.
“In accelerating such a powerful vehicle, you lost control of it. Your evidence was that while you were experienced in driving such cars, the surge of power took you by surprise.”
He added: “Nothing that this court can do can bring Alexander back to his mother and father and his family.
“Nothing that I can do can properly reflect or compensate that loss of his life.”
Thomas Wilkins, prosecuting, told the trial that the Ferrari, which was due to be sold at auction, had been taken that day to an airfield in Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire, to shoot a video to be used to market it.
CCTV footage of Alexander’s final moments was shown to the jury, showing him excitedly climbing into the supercar to have his photo taken.
The accident happened on August 22, 2016, after the car was returned to the car storage business run by the defendant on a farm site in North Warnborough.
The court heard that Justin Smith, who supplied car batteries to Cobden, had brought his partner Arabella Worth, and her son, Alexander, with him when he visited the premises to make a delivery.
When the Ferrari was unloaded from the vehicle transporter, Cobden offered to take Alexander for a ride after Mr Smith asked if they could take a photograph of the supercar.
Mr Smith told the court that Alex, who was with his mother, “in a flash, dashed” to get into the car.
Cobden told the court that he drove off in the car carefully, not exceeding the 10mph speed limit.
He added: “I’m in my client’s car and the last thing I want to do is cause any damage.”
He said that he had not worn a seatbelt and had not asked Alexander to put one on.
Cobden, of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, broke down in tears while giving evidence, saying: “It’s something I think about all the time, if I had done, things could have been different.”
Describing the crash, he said: “I didn’t do anything stupid, I was just trying to do my job. The next thing I remember is being out of the car.”
The prosecution said the car was travelling at about 40mph at the time of the collision.
The defence said that Ferraris were “temperamental cars” and a latent error caused the car to lose control. They argued that the engine was prone at times to only using six of the 12 cylinders and the car accelerated uncontrollably when all of the cylinders suddenly kicked in.
But the prosecution said the car was well-maintained and the accident was caused by driver error.
The family of Alexander, from Kings Worthy, said: “The outcome of this trial will not bring Alexander back but we hope the media coverage has in some way increased awareness of the fragility of life and the danger of driving powerful cars for however short a journey and the necessity of adhering to all sensible safety measures.
“We ask for the family’s privacy to be respected whilst we continue to come to terms with the tragic loss of our very special boy.”