Parents tell of heartbreak and their love for teenagers killed in crash

From left, Tommy Shevels, Aaron Bell and Louis Banks.

Joshua Chapman was yesterday sentenced to nine years and four months for causing the deaths of three teenagers in a crash near Bedale.

Before Judge Jonathan Carroll passed the sentence, the families of 18-year-old Aaron Bell, from Jervaulx, and 18-year-old Tommy Shevels and 17-year-old Louis Banks, both from Healey, told of the pain and suffering the 19-year-old has caused by his ““selfish, horrific, arrogant” behaviour on that night in July 2022.

But the families also told of their love for their boys and the wonderful young men they had become.

Here are the families’ statements in full:


Aaron Bell

Aaron Bell’s mother Nicola Percy told Teesside Crown Court: “Aaron was my world, my son, my best buddy.

“He was a kind, caring, helpful son (and) a talented sportsman. He was fast, strong (and) gifted, yet humble, tenacious.

“His love and passion for rugby and cricket was unwavering. He was an inspirational son who we are very proud of. We were a strong family unit of four.”

Fighting back tears, she added: “July 29, 2022, was a day that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

She said it was the day that her family’s life “fell apart”.

“It was the day that changed my life forever, the day that pat of me died, the day I experienced the most unimaginable pain of losing a child,” she added.

“A huge hole has been left that will never be filled.”

She said she had since heard “many stories” about Chapman’s driving in the small, rural community where they lived.

She branded his action on that fatal night as “selfish, horrific, arrogant”.

She said that Chapman was “obviously addicted” to speeding.

“Aaron had the world at his feet,” she added.

“He had been away at Bishop Burton College (and) achieved a BTEC Level 3 in sport with distinction but he never got to hear this result. His rugby brothers described him as a workhorse, on and off the field.”

Mrs Percy said her son was looking forward to going to university “to follow his passion in sport”.

She said that Aaron was “destined to succeed in everything he wanted to do”, but Chapman had “taken that away from him”.

She added: “I will never see his cheeky smile or hear his infectious laugh (again). The loss of Aaron has been catastrophic on every level.”

She had since suffered from “extreme” anxiety and “stress, sadness and despair, as well as anger and grief”.

Mrs Percy was away camping with her younger son Luke and friends when she was told the terrible news by her husband, Andrew Percy, Aaron’s stepdad, who said he had endured “the longest journey of my life to tell Nicola her son had been killed in a car crash”.

She said her family’s “world has been shattered”.

She said the family business had since folded because “we can’t function to keep it going”.

“Farming is a way of life and Aaron and Luke were very much a part of our journey,” she added.

She said that as well as rearing his own sheep, Aaron also showed them.

She said her elderly parents were inconsolable at the death of their beloved grandson whom they “adored”.

“I now have to watch them suffer in their final years,” she added.

She said she had “no forgiveness” for Chapman as she and her family were “living a life sentence for something that should not have happened”.

“Grief never ends,” she added.

“Grief is just the love that has no place to go. I love my son more than words can describe.”

Aaron’s stepdad Andrew Percy described his family’s loss and devastation as “immeasurable”.

He said his his stepson was “always competitive” at sport including football.

“He was a great sportsman and a very capable assistant for Nicola when she was working with her flock of sheep,” added Mr Percy.

“He had sheep of his own and was a very good handler.”

He said that Aaron’s rugby had “flourished” at college and he was “developing into a fine young man”.

He said that when two police officers came to his door on the night of Aaron’s death he was in a state of “disbelief and devastation”.

He described his stepson as “likeable and loveable”.

“We have pain, grief, a hole in our hearts that will never mend,” he added.

“The world is short of another good guy. We are now missing a son, a brother and a friend.”


Louis Banks

Louise Banks, Louis Banks’s mum, described her son as a “very kind, beautiful boy”.

She said he was a “bundle of energy” who never gave his parents any trouble and always said “I love you at the end of the night”.

“All he ever wanted to do was farm,” she added.

“The constant sadness (and) heartache (at the loss of Louis) will always be there until I take my last breath.”

Mrs Banks said that Louis was supposed to take over the family faming business from her husband Jeremy and was already “buying his own calves, goats, and had his own sheep”.

“He loved his (farming) and would have made a (great) farmer (and) husband,” she added.

She said her family’s life “changed forever” in July 2022 and she still struggled to sleep.

Without Louis’ help on the farm, the family business had gone through “difficult times” financially, she added.

The business had lost “10 months of income” because “we couldn’t do anything on the farm: it was too painful (without Louis)”.
She said her two other children had been profoundly affected by the loss of their brother and Louis’ older brother Harry had “lost his best friend”.

Mrs Banks said they held the funeral in August 2022 “when we should have been celebrating his 18th birthday”.

“He was the life and soul of everything,” she added.

She said that Chapman had “taken that away from him and us”.

He had “ruined all those lives” but she said that while Chapman’s sentence would end eventually, “(our sentence) will be forever”.

“My beautiful boy is not here and he should be,” she added.

“Part of me went with him.”


Tommy Shevels

Lucy Shevels, Tommy Shevels’ mum, told Teesside Crown Court: “Losing our eldest son is devastating; our beautiful, loving, happy boy who had his whole life ahead of him.”

She said Tommy had turned 18 just two weeks before “his life was cruelly taken from him”.

“The level of grief we are suffering is unbearable,” she added.

“We feel broken.”

She said she and her husband Dave had had to give up work “due to grief and the heartbreak of losing Tommy”.

“His father has not just lost a son, but his best friend,” she added.

She said her other, younger son was “completely devastated” by the loss of his “big brother” whom he looked up to.

“Tommy was the friendliest, kindest, most caring boy,” she added.

“He always had time for others and loved spending time with his family and friends.”

She said he loved motorbikes and mountain bikes and had been a successful competitive racer.

She said the only regret she had in Tommy’s life was his “getting into Chapman’s car”.

“(Chapman’s) thoughtless and reckless behaviour devastated three families in one night,” she added.

“Tommy and Aaron (Bell) were childhood friends. Three lovely boys suffered horrific injuries. Tommy, Louis and Aaron would be with us today if they hadn’t got into that car.

“We want Chapman to know that what he did has caused a massive amount of grief for three families by his reckless and dangerous behaviour.  We just hope he knows what he has done to us all and never forgets.

“We were so proud of the young man that Tommy was turning into and we are going to miss him (greatly).”

Tommy’s aunt Emma Wallinger, who read out a statement on behalf of his grandparents and wider family, said: “Tommy was so precious to us all.

“It was wonderful to see him growing into a healthy, fit young man. He was a hard-working and very popular young man with a wide circle of friends.”

She said that over 400 people turned out for Tommy’s funeral, some of whom worked alongside him in the family sawmill business and on local farms.

Ms Wallinger added: “Tommy had so much to offer to the world and his life appears to have been taken in a sheer act of madness.

“The impact of losing Tommy on our small but close family is thoroughly devastating and we will never be the same again.”


1 Comment

  1. A totally avoidable tragedy . Yet again we see that young people and fast cars do not mix. The age for driving with passengers should be twenty one at least .

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