Speeding car driver who killed a 6-year-old boy is sentenced to five and a half years in jail

Michael Raffermati

A 6-year-old boy cycling home from football training with his father was ‘catapulted 100 feet along a road’ when he was hit by a speeding car. 

The victim’s adoptive father Dr Tekki Rao, a consultant paediatrician, tried to resuscitate him at the scene, but his death was confirmed shortly after he arrived the hospital where he works. 

On Monday, May 18, 2020, the driver of the Astra car Michael Raffermati was jailed for five and a half years at Luton crown court, having earlier pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving in Luton on the afternoon of Saturday, October 20, 2018.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw said: “The boy was riding his bicycle and was following his father. Dr Roa intended for them to cross a road known as Whitehorse Vale and he checked in each direction to ensure it was safe to cross. 

“Having done so, he then set off to cross between bollards. Dr Rao was a little ahead of his son, when he heard the roaring sound of a car engine of what he later described as a ‘fast approaching car’. 

“He tried to shout to stop him, but realised the victim was already crossing the road behind him. 

“Dr Rao witnessed his son being struck by a car and ‘catapulted on the road about 100 feet.

“He was to tell the police that there was no screeching sound that he could heard. He could heard his son being hit and the sound of something being dragged, but no braking. 

“Dr Rao tried to resuscitate his son but his efforts were in vain. Death was confirmed shortly after his admission to hospital.” 

A post mortem examination found a neck injury was the cause of death. 

One witness said the car was going “really fast” and saw no brake light at the time of the collision.

Another said it was doing at least 60 miles per hour on the single carriageway road, that has a speed limit of 30 mph. 

The court heard 35-year-old Raffermati, who had his own three children in the car, had a clear view of the crossing for 132 metres. 

Police calculations put the speed of the blue Astra car at between 50 and 61 mph at the time of impact if there had been braking before. 

“What is likely is that had the Astra been travelling at 30mph the injuries to the pedal cyclist would have been less severe.” 

Raffermati previously of Wren Close, Caddington, Beds but now of Liddell Way, Leighton Buzzard pleaded guilty to causing the death of the victim on Saturday, October 20. by dangerous driving. 

He had three previous convictions: damaging property and two of threatening behaviour.

That including a road rage offence in 2015 when another driver was threatened with a hammer. 

Mr Shaw said the MOT on the Astra which had a 58 plate, had expired 11 days before the collision. 

When it was examined the entire number and grill were missing “with deep crumpling” of the bonnet to the base of the windscreen. The windscreen itself had a series of minor cracks across it. 

Raffermati, who was arrested at the scene, refused to be interviewed. Mr Shaw said: “The defendant was traveling at well over the 30mph speed limit and such driving was inappropriate for the prevailing road conditions. It was a residential area with multiple crossing points. 

“The nature of the road is such that extra care is required. It is residential, near a corner shop, there are multiple designated crossing points, multiple bus stops and multiple side roads from which vehicles may be emerging. 

“There are multiple vulnerable road users and hazard points. There is clear witness evidence that the defendant was not driving in a manner even approaching appropriate for the road. 

“Having proved Dr Rao and his son were there to be seen, at or near a designated crossing point, the defendant did not react in any way to account for their presence on or near to the crossing point. Given the 132 metre view he should have seen the pair behind him and slowed down accordingly. 

“There is witness evidence that no braking was seen or heard on the car’s approach to the crossing and, to the contrary, that he accelerated In the lead up to it. The defendant was driving so fast he was oblivious to other vulnerable road users and either failed to see the victim or Dr Rao until it is too late, or does see them and carries on regardless.” 

In a victim personal station Dr Tekki Rao, who had adopted the boy and his sister two months earlier, said: “Our whole family was utterly depressed and devastated by his untimely departure due to a cruel and reckless act. 

“My son loved football, cycling, trampoline, swimming and gymnastics and he can be described as a live electrical wire full of energy and fun.” 

Dr Rao went on: “My boy was following me perhaps a few feet away. As soon as I reached the other side of the road, I heard the roaring sound coming towards us and I realised it was a fast approaching car. I tried to shout out loud to stop him. It was too late.” 

He said the boy was catapulted down the road and went to his aid. “He was lifeless, pale eyes deviated to either side. At that very moment I felt he was no more. My experience in paediatric medicine and neurology told me his life has ended,” he said. 

The doctor added: “Our lives will never be the same again. We will never hear his infectious giggle again. He loved football, cycling, trampoline and swimming. 

“We feel our family will  never be complete again. This is all down to the irresponsible and reckless driver who did not think of the consequences of his actions when he chose to get behind the wheel of his car and drive in such a careless, reckless and dangerous manner.”

Defending, Neil Jarvis said Raffermati understood that what he did that day was “truly terrible.”  He said: “He wishes he could put himself in the place of the child. He accepts his speeds was excessive. He can’t clearly say what happened. He wishes he could go back and do something completely different.”