LONDON — They had gone out to deliver Christmas presents for the first time as a young family when disaster struck.
On the way back home, a $100,000 SUV traveling at twice the speed limit struck their vehicle head-on.
In the 2006 accident, 11-month-old Cerys Edwards was thrown from her seat and suffered devastating injuries.
Cerys would never learn to talk. Horrific brain and spinal cord injuries meant she would spend the next nine years unable to walk or breathe independently.
Emergency workers at the scene told her parents that Cerys was unlikely to make it to the hospital alive. If she had died that night, the man responsible would have faced 14 years in prison.
Instead, she died this week after almost a decade of torment.
The man who struck her car, Antonio Singh Boparan, survived the crash and now stands ready to inherit his parents’ billion-dollar fortune. Their business empire includes Britain’s biggest chain of fish and chips restaurants and one of the country’s most successful food producers.
Cerys’s dad, Gareth Edwards, believes the wealthy playboy—19 at the time of the crash—effectively got away with murder. He was convicted on the lesser charge of dangerous driving and released after serving just six months of a two-year prison sentence.
Boparan, whose parents are worth up to $2 billion, may not be in the clear just yet.
Officials at West Midlands Police told The Daily Beast they would be willing to re-arrest Boparan, now 28, and charge him with death by dangerous driving if a post-mortem is able to establish a causal link between the crash and Cerys’s death.
Gareth Edwards believes that would be a fitting punishment.
“He only served six months and Cerys has lost her life. She was left on a ventilator after the crash, she caught a virus and that has killed her. She wouldn’t have been in that position if it wasn’t for the crash,” he told his local paper, the Sutton Coldfield Observer. “He is scum. I will leave it to the police but I would like to see him face new charges. In my mind, that would be only right and proper.”
If the police do decide to arrest Boparan for a second time, they will know exactly where to find him—he is in prison.
This year, he was convicted for his part in a horrific brawl inside the VIP lounge at the Nuvo cocktail bar in Birmingham, where Boparan had paid $600 to reserve a table.
A dispute between his friends and another group ended in a 22-year-old man losing the sight in one eye after being slashed with a Champagne flute. Boparan fled the club along with the friend who had wielded the broken glassware, and he punched and kicked a second victim in the street outside. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
His father, Ranjit Boparan, who is known as the Chicken King, made his stellar business reputation by demonstrating civility toward his workforce and shunning the limelight.
After starting work in a butcher at the age of 16, Ranjit Boparan established and grew the country’s most successful poultry business without feeling the need to give media interviews.
After his son’s car crash, in 2008, Ranjit and his wife, Baljinder, installed Antonio Boparan as the head trustee of The Boparan Charitable Trust, which helps to care for children with severe disabilities.
Cerys Edwards was not one of the children they looked after.
Paralyzed and reliant on a ventilator, she needed around-the-clock care, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to provide, but her father said she always retained her sunny outlook on life.
“Given her injuries, she never complained and was a joy to be with. She was a very happy child who loved life,” Gareth Edwards said.
“She was a very happy little girl whose cheeky smile would melt the heart of anyone present. She idolised her father, and me her. We had a huge bond and understood each other. She is and will be sadly missed by all who knew her, especially her dad.”
After years of legal wrangling with an insurance company, the family was awarded a compensation payout in 2012 by a judge who described Cerys’s experience as “the saddest case I’ve come across.”