A ‘wonderful’ Horsham grandmother was killed when a stolen Mercedes crashed into her car on the A24 last year at up to 142mph.
Serial car thief Conor Dobson, 23, abandoned the £30,000 stolen car and fled the scene of the horror crash. He was jailed at Hove Crown Court today for 15 years.
The death of former Horsham nurse Rebecca Nevins aged 70 in November last year left her family devastated, knowing life would never be the same again.
Distraught daughter Alice Nevins told the court how she found out what happened to her mum on the phone: “I knew something terrible had happened.
“I made this incredible wailing noise. I could not believe this had happened to my wonderful mother.
“We had only just got in from our most recent holiday to Venice and the USA.”
If you use a public road as a racetrack and that results in the death of an innocent person then the consequences will be seriousJudge Jeremy Gold QC
She broke down in court as described her ‘fantastic life’ with her beloved mum.
Dobson drove down to Sussex in a stolen sports car along with co-defendant Isaac McFadyen, intending to steal another expensive car.
Prosecutor Dale Sullivan told the judge: “The Mercedes with which the defendants travelled into Sussex was itself a stolen vehicle, bearing incorrect plates.”
Beginning about 1.15pm that afternoon, two houses in Goring were subjected to untidy searches.
From the second the keys to a Mercedes AMG were taken, along with a laptop, watches, jewellery and SLR camera.
This was the Mercedes that was involved in the fatal collision, Mr Sullivan told the court.
The pair were later spotted at the Texaco garage at Buck Barn services and a police pursuit started at 2.20pm.
McFadyen crashed in West Grinstead and was arrested trying to run from the scene, the court heard.
The prosecutor added: “When arrested he was out of breath and had a few cuts to his face.
“He said: ‘I am glad the passenger airbag did not go off because it hit my nose last time’.”
The Mercedes AMG from Goring being driven by Dobson was lost by the pursuing officers.
Later, the Mercedes was spotted driving at speeds of up to 147mph on the A24, where it crashed into Rebecca Nevins’ red Ford Focus, the court heard.
The speed limit for that stretch of road was 60mph.
Rebecca, who had been driving back with her friend from lunch, sustained fatal injuries in the collision. Her passenger escaped the horror crash with minor injuries.
The court heard how the incident happened in daylight and the weather was dry.
Dobson did not stop after the crash, instead fleeing the scene. He was spotted boarding a train to Clapham Junction and was arrested in London some days later.
Judge Jeremy Gold QC said to Dobson: “You were driving at a grossly excessive speed.
“If you use a public road as a racetrack and that results in the death of an innocent person then the consequences will be serious.”
He noted Dobson’s ‘appalling record’ for house burglary and driving offences, as well as stealing cars.
The judge sentenced Dobson to 15 years in jail for manslaughter and burglary, with a three-year extended licence period upon his release.
Judge Gold noted McFadyen’s youth, but said the burglaries were ‘professional criminal activity’.
He was sentenced to 26 months in a young offenders institution and fined a total of £700. He had pleaded guilty to receiving stolen goods and dangerous driving at Hove Crown Court. Earlier, at magistrates’ court, he had admitted two counts of burglary, driving without a license or insurance.
Rebecca’s daughter Philippa Davies bravely spoke alongside her sister Alice, telling the court of the horrible moment she found out her mother had been killed.
She said: “I collapsed on the floor and could not breathe.
“My kids are left without their beloved nan.”
Philippa, who works for a road safety company, said her work have been very understanding but she has not been able to return to all her previous duties.
Mark Kinsey, defending Dobson, said: “He accepts total responsibility for what occurred and is aware that he will receive a lengthy term of imprisonment.
“He is still a young man.”
Mr Kinsey asked the judge to consider that though the charge was manslaughter, the car had not been deliberately used as a weapon.
Mr Manning, defending McFadyen, pointed out that his client is only 18 years old.
He added: “He has asked me to express his sincere remorse and sadness.
“He is a young and vulnerable man.”
He also argued that McFadyen played a ‘subordinate role’ in the burglaries.
Dobson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and burglary. A further two burglaries were left to lie on file.
McFadyen admitted a charge of receiving stolen goods and dangerous driving. He was earlier convicted of two counts of burglary, a count of theft, and driving without licencse or insurance.