THE owner of a car storage company is to be sentenced for causing the death of a 13-year-old boy from Hampshire in a crash in a £1.2m Ferrari.
Matthew Cobden, 39, of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, lost control of the Ferrari F50 on August 22, 2016, while taking Alexander Worth for a spin.
The court was told that 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.
Cobden denied causing death by careless driving, saying the car had a mechanical defect, but was convicted following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.
Thomas Wilkins, prosecuting, told the court 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.
The accident happened 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 ‘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 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.’