Teenager left pal to drown in stolen van

A ‘COWARDLY’ Mansfield teenager has been jailed after leaving his best friend to die when a van crashed into a river.

Leigh Walters (19) and another man were seen to escape from the stolen van when it veered into the River Derwent near Raynesway, Derbyshire, in July.

But they failed to tell a passerby - or the emergency services - that 14-year-old Patrick Piggott, the driver, was still inside.

The Derby youngster’s body was found inside the van the following day.

Derby Crown Court was told that he had drowned.

Judge Abbas Mithani QC said Walters and the other man, Paul Berridge, had acted in a “cowardly” manner and failed to get help in the hope of covering up their “wrongdoing”.

He said: “If you had done that (got help) it might have prevented the tragic death of Patrick Piggott.”

Walters and Berridge (26) admitted being carried in a vehicle taken without consent which then led to Patrick Piggott’s death.

Walters was sent to a young offenders’ institution for 20 months. Berridge, of Derby, was jailed for two years.

The court was told how Patrick took the Ford Escort van from Spencer Street, Alvaston, and picked up his best friend, Walters, and then another friend, Berridge.

He drove the van at 40mph along the path next to the river but lost control and the vehicle plunged into the water.

A woman saw Walters and Berridge climb up the bank and out of the water, but they failed to mention Patrick was still in the van. The next day the alarm was raised and his body was found.

Both men were also disqualified from driving for two years.

The court was told that Walters was genuinely distressed by the loss of his best friend after what started as a ‘childish prank in the taking of a car ended up as a tragic accident’.