‘Cowardly’ Christmas Day hit-and-run driver who left mum for dead jailed

A “grotesquely selfish” motorist who crashed and killed a mother-of-two before driving off and dumping the car has been jailed.

Arnold Malaolu, 25, smashed into Sharon Hamnett as she crossed the road at a pedestrian crossing and instead of getting out to help, he sped off and abandoned his car at an industrial estate in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

Malaolu fled to Coventry and then on to Dublin using someone else’s passport.

Miss Hamnett was crossing the road just before 9pm on December 25 2017 when she was hit. A taxi driver saw her on the floor and got out to help, but it was too late.

She was rushed to hospital and but died at 9.45pm.

Malaolu was eventually caught nine months later after he boarded a flight to Edinburgh and was arrested and brought back to Manchester to face his crimes.

He pleaded guilty to counts of causing death by driving while uninsured, failing to stop at the scene of a crash, and possessing an identity document with improper intent, Manchester Evening News reports.

After dumping the car, Malaolu then returned to it to get some luggage from the boot.

He then walked back to the apartment where he had been staying, taking care to avoid the police who were now investigating at the scene.

On Boxing Day, police found the abandoned car and realised its link to Ms Hamnett’s death.

The following day, Malaolu got a taxi to a house in Oldham. After no-one answered the door, he threw two suitcases over the fence and then fled to Coventry where he stayed the night.

Then on December 28, he boarded a flight from Birmingham to Dublin, using someone else’s passport.

When he got to Dublin he tried to use the passport through the automated security machines, but it was rejected.

After security officers took a "cursory glance" at the document, Malaolu was waved through.

He said he was in a state of panic at the time, and didn’t know the police were after him.

An investigation into the crash found that Malaolu had been speeding, travelling somewhere between 37mph and 43mph in a 30mph zone, but that his reaction time was about a second.

Mr Berlyne said: "Mr Malaolu would have had a fraction of a second’s reaction time, and perhaps not sufficient reaction time to react at all."

Prosecutors said that his driving was "not blameless", but that he couldn’t be charged with causing death by dangerous or careless driving.

Ms Hamnett was said to be "heavily under the influence of alcohol" at the time.

Malaolu pleaded guilty to counts of causing death by driving while uninsured, failing to stop at the scene of a crash, and possessing an identity document with improper intent.

He has been jailed for two years.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Ms Hamnett’s daughter, Nicole Hyland, said: "We have not only lost our mum, but we have also lost our best friend.

"The most important person in our lives has gone."

She said Christmas Day turned into the “worst day of all of our lives”.

Ms Hyland said the family feel “angry” towards Malaolu.

"He didn’t even have the decency to phone for help, never mind check to see if she was okay," she added.

The court heard that Malaolu banned from driving for two years in Ireland at the time of the crash, after being convicted of driving without insurance.

That ban is not enforceable in the UK.

Defending, Patrick Williamson said the collision represented a "tragedy" following a series of "avoidable consequences".

He said: "Even if the defendant had been travelling at the speed limit, the collision itself could not have been avoided."

Mr Williamson said Malaolu panicked, and travelled to Ireland to complete a community order from a previous sentence, not aware of what had happened and that he was wanted by the police.

He said Malaolu planned to hand himself in after completing his business in Edinburgh.

Sentencing, Judge Martin Walsh said: "You left Sharon Hamnett on the road having struck her. You failed to stop.

“This was a cowardly and grotesquely selfish act on your part.

“You left the Manchester area. It must have been obvious to you that the police were looking for you.”

Malaolu, of Tyrrelstown Plaza, Dublin, was also banned from driving for three years.

In a tribute released after her death, Sharon’s family said: "We can’t even put into words how we feel other than complete emptiness, we are absolutely broken.

"We know you’re going to guide us in the right direction and make sure we stay strong. We will continue to make you the proudest mum in the world."

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