A MAN who went on the run for more than seven years after being convicted of breaking his friend’s jaw with a single blow has been jailed.
Martin Olaiye, who skipped court after being convicted but before he was sentenced, begged a judge to spare him prison after he was caught.
The dad-of-one told a judge how in nearly eight years he got married, became a father, found God and completed a degree in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Olaiye attacked his pal in 2009 after the man refused to pay more than the £100 debt he owed the defendant.
But after being convicted at a trial in 2009, he was given a chance to talk to his barrister in the court corridor about opposing being remanded in custody.
By the time the lawyer had got outside Olaiye, 34, had run off – sparking a manhunt.
Speaking over a videolink, Olaiye told a judge: ‘I can’t believe I put myself in the position that takes me away from my family. I do have relief that the law has finally caught up with me and I can be punished and pick up my life where I left off.’
The exam invigilator added: ‘I beg the court’s pardon your ladyship, I appreciate the opportunity to address the court.
‘The man you see before you this morning is not the same man that committed this reckless act eight years ago. The path I was on, I was reckless.’
Olaiye, who has a previous conviction for escaping lawful custody and was previously jailed for drug-dealing, added: ‘I cared very little about anyone else.’
Olaiye, who graduated from the University of Portsmouth, said around the time of his conviction two relatives were killed in an arson attack in Milton Keynes.
‘Feeling very guilty about the situation and unhappy with my circumstances I sought refuge at my local church. I was able to begin my goal of self-rehabilitation,’ he said.
Olaiye, who was caught after an interaction with a community officer in January in Tipton, ‘wants to apologise to the complainant and has since been praying for him,’ defence barrister Natalie Csengeri said.
She added: ‘All in all, you see a reformed Christian in front of you today.’
Daniel Sawyer, who prosecuted the trial in 2010, told the hearing the victim told police he ‘suffered both emotionally and physically’.
But sentencing, Mrs Justice May said: ‘I cannot permit the fact you have evaded justice for seven-and-a-half years to result in a more favourable sentence than would have otherwise been the case.’
Olaiye, whose last address was recorded as Swanmore Road, Havant, covered his face with his hand as he was jailed for a year for grievous bodily harm and an extra two months for failing to surrender to court, which he admitted.
The victim needed surgery on his jaw and still suffers the after-effects from the attack in Middle Park Way Leigh Park on August 20, 2009 at around 9am.
A police spokesman said: ‘Following Olaiye’s failure to appear at court, officers pursued a number of lines of enquiry to locate him which proved unsuccessful until the point of his arrest.’