Burton teenager jailed for hit-and-run
A Burton teenager is behind bars after killing a bricklayer in a hit-and-run.
Lawson Byrd has been jailed for 12 years after Judge Shaun Smith QC told him he ‘increased the chance’ of causing serious harm to 18-year-old Gianne Obafial when he decided to back down with his car and driving it over Mr. Obafial before running. him more.
Mr Obafial’s mother said she was still in pain from missing her son’s death in hospital by just 10 minutes and was tormented by the thought that ‘he will never come back to home again’. House”.
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She read her victim impact statement in court.
Sentencing the 19-year-old, Judge Smith said: “Your car was pointed in the direction you intended to go. You could have left and left it. You could have left when the screaming started, but you didn’t.
“First you chose to get out of the car and chase him down the road, but far more important and serious than that, when you got back in that car, you chose to use him as a weapon. He posed no danger to you whatsoever.
“The footage we’ve all seen shows him putting his hands on the bonnet. You got him stuck and keep going regardless.
“This would not have happened without your criminal actions.
“You were the aggressor from the start. You had no reason to get out of the car. You intended, in my opinion, to inflect evil. Your victim was clearly backing away.
“You got back in the car and once your passengers got in, you made a conscious decision to use it as a weapon. Your choice must have been born out of a desire to cause injury just before serious bodily harm. “
After a nearly two-week trial, a jury of six men and six women took two and a half hours to reach a unanimous verdict of guilty of manslaughter against the defendant.
But they cleared him of the more serious charge of murdering the 19-year-old from Normanton.
Derby Crown Court heard how the defendant drove onto and then onto Mr Obafial at Mercian Way and then drove towards Abbey Street, fleeing the scene in Derby.
Testifying that Byrd, of Ash Close, Burton, claimed he had no intention of causing the fatal injuries sustained by his victim.
Instead, he told a jury he ‘freaked out’ after seeing ‘a gleam of metal’ in the waistband of Mr Obafial’s trousers and thought it was a knife.
Mr Obafial’s mother gave an emotional impact statement in court and said his younger brothers were still coming to terms with what had happened.
She said: “Almost six years ago I brought my son to the UK hoping to give him a happy and safe life. July 19 was the worst day of my life.
“I prayed to God, ‘please don’t take my son away.
“Gianne survived the operation. I remember holding his hand, and he let me know he knew I was there by his side, letting me know he could hear me. He held out for nine days but lost his battle.
“My worst nightmare was reality, the most painful feeling you can have.
“I’m basically emotionally and mentally drained. I don’t know if I’ll ever move on.
“Gianne left behind two brothers aged 9 and 10. Telling them was devastating. I felt responsible for breaking their hearts.
“They wake up calling their brother, shouting why [is their brother gone?]. I can’t answer because I don’t know why. I don’t know why Gianne was taken from us. My youngest son still wakes up sobbing because he misses Gianne. Their school has provided counseling to help them come to terms with the fact that Gianne is not coming back.
“He always put others before himself and if anyone needed Gianne, he was there.
“Nobody deserves to die. I’m angry that someone took Gianne from me and it’s not fair.
“Since I watched CCTV [at trial] I did not sleep. I can see the car rolling over his body and I feel guilty for not being there to protect my son. I would never wish for another mother to feel the way I feel right now.”
During the trial, the jury heard how Mr Obafial and a friend named Brandon Hart were walking down Mercian Way at around 10 p.m. on July 19 last year when they encountered Byrd and two friends passing them.
A passenger in the defendant’s car shouted an obscenity at the pair, which the victim dismissed.
Byrd then stopped his Ford Fiesta, got out and began to fight with the victim, who had a hammer in his jogging bottoms.
The accused, in evidence, testified that it was the victim who hit him first, then continued to attack him, hitting him repeatedly and then kicking him in the chest.
But CCTV of the incident showed Mr Obafial backing up as Byrd drove forward, before approaching his car to retrieve two hoodies that had been dropped nearby.
At this point in the footage, the Ford drove towards him, pushed him backwards, then ran him over, leaving him on the road.
Byrd is a former Paget High School student who, until his arrest, was studying for a degree in sports science while working part-time at a Holland and Barrett warehouse in Burton.
Byrd will spend two-thirds of his 12-year sentence in custody before being released with a license, and has also been banned from driving for 13 years and will undergo an extended driving test in order to drive again.
The car used in the incident will be seized and Byrd will also have to pay a victim surcharge, reports DerbyshireLive.
Justice Smith also ordered that a surgeon and two members of the public who unsuccessfully tried to help Mr Obafial both at the scene and in hospital be awarded £500 from the public purse.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Steve Shaw, who led the investigation, said: “Mr Obafial’s death was a truly senseless act and left a family without a beloved son.
“Although the jury found that Lawson Byrd did not intend to kill Mr. Obafial, his actions were clearly not in self-defence and caused the head injury that led to his death.
“Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle of any size needs to realize the potential danger it poses to others – and it was clear by Byrd’s actions that he had no regard for Mrs. Obafial even when it was clear he knocked him down.
“My thoughts, as with everyone at Derbyshire Constabulary, remain with Mr Obafial’s family and friends and I hope today’s sentence brings them some degree of closure.”
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