Dad of toddler who died after choking on grape reverses car into wife with baby in back

The dad of a boy who choked to death on a grape reversed his car into his wife while his baby daughter was in the back seat.

David Jenkins, 38, knocked his spouse to the ground after refusing to hand his daughter over following an argument.

He then raced off with the door of his car open and his child crying in the back seat.

The shocking incident took place almost seven years after the accidental death of Jenkins’ two-year-old son Jacob.

Teesside Crown Court heard Jenkins’ wife Abigail contacted her estranged husband around the time of the anniversary of the death of their son.

The couple resumed their relationship – despite Jenkins being subject to a non-molestation order banning him from contacting his wife.

Jacob died in October 2015 after choking on a grape from the salad bar in Hartlepool’s Pizza Hut restaurant.

Staff, customers and paramedics rushed to help the youngster before he was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and placed in an induced coma.

His parents, Mr and Mrs Jenkins held a bedside vigil before he died in their arms days later on October 14.

Newcastle Coroner Karen Dilks concluded that his death was accidental.

On Thursday this week the court heard that despite their reconciliation, the relationship deteriorated, as prosecutor Joe Hedworth said Jenkins had jealous fits and tried to control his wife, TeessideLive reports.

Mr Hedworth said: “He insisted that she had contact with him all day. He made her use Snapchat maps so he could see where she was.

“He cut the wires to the CCTV at the front of the house and became jealous when she used a personal trainer at the gym, until she stopped. He accused her of cheating.”

The court heard that on March 6, Jenkins’ wife packed his bags.

An argument ensued when he got home with their daughter and “he reversed his car, with his daughter in it, at speed, knocking her over.”

Mr Hedworth said that when concerned neighbours came out, Jenkins told one of them to “shut up” when she told him to: “Do the right thing and hand the baby over.”

That was when Jenkins accelerated away, with the couple’s baby standing up in the car, leaving a door open, which hit his wife again.

When the police arrived, they found Jenkins still driving, and he stopped after they forced his car into a lamp post.

Mr Hedworth said that the baby was still crying.

Jenkins, who also previously was listed as living in Billingham, was arrested and told police that he thought the non-molestation order was no longer in place and that the couple had reunited.

He complained that, “the police had driven into him and forced him to crash.”

But by March 29, Jenkins breached the non-molestation order again, by creating fake profiles on social media and messaging his now-estranged wife.

He told her: “Don’t do this beautiful. I love you forever.”

In a statement, Jenkins’ ex-wife, who suffered a bruised foot in the incident, said: “It was heartbreaking that I couldn’t get to my daughter who was crying in distress.

“If I’d moved out of the way of the car, I would have been allowing him to take my daughter whilst he was drunk.

“I hope I never see that look on my daughter’s face again- it was pure fear.”

The victim went onto say that she is frightened about the future, because she is tied to Jenkins through their daughter.

Jenkins admitted dangerous driving, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and breaches of his non-molestation order between October 2020 and March 2021; and again between March and April 2022.

He has 16 previous convictions for 29 offences, which include a four-year jail term in 2007, for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm; and a number of driving offences.

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said that Jenkins was back in a relationship with his wife at the time of the offending; and that he had “blamed himself” for the death of the couple’s two-year-old son, seven years ago:

“He shouldn’t – it was a tragic accident. The boy choked to death,” the barrister added.

Mr Scarborough said that his client and his client’s wife “both wanted to make a go of their marriage” before the incident on March 6.

He said that Jenkins, “thought he took his daughter into the car for the right reasons, that the child was saying she wanted her daddy and her mother was not allowing that.”

Mr Scarborough said that Jenkins was pulled out of the car “quite forcibly” by the police and that he has now spent 110 days on an electronic tag.

After his second breach of the non-molestation order in July, Jenkins was taken into custody.

Jenkins sobbed and interrupted as Judge Antony Dunne told him: “Your behaviour has caused your victim harm – you made her feel scared. She was frightened by your behaviour to your daughter.

“She says your daughter now requires a lot of support and reassurance. I do take into account the background of the tragic death of yours and your former wife’s son.

“But she was also a victim of that and it must have made your behaviour towards your daughter all the more frightening for her.

“Although I bear in mind that your contact with your former wife was initiated by her; your behaviour was reckless.

“You knocked her to the ground and then drove with the car door open, you showed no concern.”

“I did get out of the car to ask if she was OK,” said Jenkins, with his head in his hands.

“I thought she was clear of the car, I really did.”

Jenkins was jailed for two-years-and-two-months.

He was also disqualified from driving for three-years and must pass an extended test before he is allowed back on the roads.