A young father who killed an elderly woman in a high speed hit-and-run with a stolen car moments after being chased by police has been jailed for 15 years.
Conor Dobson was driving the black Mercedes AMG at a ‘grossly excessive speed’ when he used the A24 near Horsham, West Sussex, as a ‘race track’ on November 10, Judge Jeremy Gold said.
He crashed into Rebecca Nevins' red Ford Fiesta at speeds of at least 135mph, Hove Crown Court heard on Monday.
The collision caused Mrs Nevins, and a black Peugeot 207 she had been overtaking at 47mph, to spin into each other while Dobson crashed into the central reservation.
The former nurse died a month after celebrating her 70th birthday.
Dobson, now 24, fled to London by train after flagging down a passing van, claiming he was being chased after a fight, to get a lift to a nearby railway station. Police arrested him two days later after identifying him from DNA left on the airbag of the car.
He had travelled to Sussex with 18-year-old Isaac McFayden in a different A-class Mercedes which was stolen in London six months earlier, prosecutor Dale Sullivan told the court.
The pair raided a house in Goring-by-Sea at around 1.15pm, hoping to take keys belonging to an Audi parked in the driveway, but to no avail. Instead they took the Mercedes AMG - worth around £30,000 - from a nearby home shortly after, as well as other valuables.
Officers gave chase at 2.20pm after spotting them stopping for petrol at a service station off the A24.
They lost Dobson, of Staines, soon afterwards and were not in ‘active pursuit’ of his car at the time of the collision, the court heard. When he approached the crash scene he was driving at between 137mph and 147mph in a 60mph limit zone, Mr Sullivan said.
Officers instead followed McFayden - who could be seen on police dash cam footage driving at speeds in excess of 70mph through single-track country lanes and overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic. He crashed into a hedge moments later and tried to escape, but was caught and arrested.
Dobson admitted manslaughter and burglary. Two other burglary offences were left to lie on file.
Handing him an extended sentence to serve an extra three years on licence, Judge Gold said he would not be considered for parole until he had served 10 years behind bars and banned him from driving for three years after his release.
The court heard of his ‘appalling record’ of previous offending, including a ‘similar scenario' in 2013, as well as burglary, car thefts and other driving offences.
McFayden, of Feltham, pleaded guilty to burglary, dangerous driving, theft of a motor vehicle, driving without a licence or insurance and handling stolen goods.
He was handed a 26-month custodial sentence in a young offenders' institution and fined £700. He was disqualified from driving for two years after his release.
Dobson, the father of a five-year-old child, held his head in his hand while grieving daughters Alice Nevins and Philippa Davies spoke in court.
Ms Nevins said she could ‘feel in her bones’ something was not right when her mother was late picking her up from work that day.
Bursting into tears as she read a statement, Ms Nevins said: ‘She was my absolute everything, my best friend.
‘She was taken so suddenly from us.
‘I still feel very empty. It's like I'm missing a part of me.
‘I feel so angry and so alone.’
She said the ordeal sent her father ‘into a dark hole’.
Ms Davies, who works for a road safety company dealing with speeding and dangerous drivers, said their lives changed all because of the ‘stupid actions and life choices of another person’.
Friend Christine Goacher, 70, who was left with bruises as a passenger in the crash, described Mrs Nevins' death as a ‘waste of life’, adding: ‘I feel guilty that Becky died and I'm still alive.’
Dobson's father described him as a ‘troubled young man’, and his barrister Mark Kimsey said he suffered ‘flashbacks’.
In a letter which was read aloud in court, Dobson said: ‘It is a day that I will live over and over and over again throughout my life and I am truly sorry. I wish it had been my life, it should have been my life, not hers. I am totally responsible.’
McFayden, who had previous convictions for going equipped to steal, also apologised to Mrs Nevins' family through his barrister, James Manning. He was described as a ‘vulnerable young man’ with learning difficulties who left school with no qualifications.
Sussex Police carried out an internal investigation after the incident.
A force spokesman said: ‘The actions of the officers involved in the pursuit were scrutinised and their actions were in line with policy and there was found to be no wrongdoing.’
A 25-year-old woman from London arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender during the incident was released without charge.