Unqualified Driver Jailed For Killing Grandmother
24 December 2015, 06:17
A novice driver from Nottingham who knocked down and killed a grandmother having twice run her over will serve five years behind bars.
Johan Martin claimed he thought he was being shot at when he panicked and reversed the car along a street crowded with night-time revellers, with his head ducked down behind the steering wheel.
Showing what a judge called ``flagrant disregard'', the 20-year-old clipped one man and went straight into Melanie Dolby, 48, with such force that her head smashed the Ford Mondeo's back window.
Martin, who said he thought the window had been struck by a bullet, was then witnessed by stunned pub-goers driving forward and back over Ms Dolby.
He then reversed yet again, dragging her body for a further 25 metres down the road.
Ms Dolby, who sustained 58 separate injuries, died from a lack of blood to the brain.
Sentencing Martin at Birmingham Crown Court for causing death by dangerous driving, judge Mark Wall QC told him: ``You must have been conscious in my mind of what you had done.
``The serious nature of what you did is exacerbated in that once you'd made contact with two people you continued to drive more than once over the prostrate body of Ms Dolby in a way that made worse the situation you had already created.
``You continued to drive when it would have been obvious to anybody that to continue to do so would likely cause serious injury.''
The judge said Martin's claim he had been confronted on the busy street by a man he feared had a gun, did not then explain why - having already hit his victim - he drove the car ``back and forth over the body of Ms Dolby''.
Martin, the court heard, held only a provisional licence at the time of the incident, which happened in Gamble Street, in Radford, Nottingham, at about 1.30am on June 21.
In interview, Martin later told police he and the car's owner and front seat passenger, Jamal Rodney, had earlier dropped two girls at a hotel and were looking for a space to park.
The men, in a black Ford Mondeo with tinted limited-visibility windows, became stuck in traffic in Gamble Street where a ``pop-up party'' had attracted a large crowd of revellers, near to The Moog pub.
Martin said that when they flashed a car ahead of them to move out of the way a man approached their car in a ``threatening'' manner.
The young man said he was ``scared'', and reversed, telling police: ``I was trying to get safe, hitting cars.
``I'm not trying to stop, so I just went back and the car's just cut out.
``I was trying to start it and just get out (of there).''
The car first struck Ms Dolby's male friend Lamar Taylor, who was knocked unconscious, before ploughing into Ms Dolby.
Richard Pratt, prosecuting, read a police accident investigator's report to the court and its packed public gallery, attended by members of both the victim's and defendant's families.
Mr Pratt said: ``The vehicle was reversed at speed when it struck Lamar Taylor and Melanie Dolby, and the damage to the nearside rear of the Mondeo was consistent with a substantial collision. It's his view her head broke the rear window.
``After the collision, the vehicle appears to have continued to have reversed at speed, with her body wedged beneath the rear of the vehicle, for about 13 metres before it hit a Fiat Punto.
``Then it moved forward for two metres before again reversing and dragging Ms Dolby another 25 metres.''
Various clubbers described their horror at witnessing Ms Dolby first knocked down, and then twice run over with one commenting: ``I could not believe what I was seeing.''
The final moments of the incident, caught on CCTV, and played in court with Ms Dolby's family's agreement, made ``truly horrific viewing'' the judge told an unmoving Martin.
Martin, of Vernon Road, Basford, Nottingham, fled the scene, abandoning the vehicle in the street.
He handed himself in to police days after the crash and in court admitted causing death by dangerous driving and another charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
In mitigation his barrister Adrian Langdale said his client had shown remorse and had written a letter to Ms Dolby's loved ones.
Mr Langdale said: ``Nothing the defendant can say or do could turn back the hands of time, save in one particular matter, to plead guilty - and that's what he has done.''
Martin, who was also sentenced to three years concurrent for injuring Mr Taylor, was told he must serve half his term in a young offender's institution and the rest on licence.
He was banned from driving for seven years.