KILLED AS SHE TRIED T0 MAKE PEACE
Driver jailed for seven years
A POPULAR mum was acting as a peacekeeper when she was horrifically crushed to death by the car of “cowardly” killer Sean Herman.
Innocent victim Susan Fuller was trying to defuse trouble between her sons and Herman when she was tragically killed as he recklessly reversed into her, pinning her against a wall.
The car then drove over her as Herman fled and the 63-year-old suffered 58 rib fractures, a fractured skull and other broken bones.
She died in the arms of her family at the scene in Howdon, Wallsend.
Herman had been accused of murdering Mrs Fuller but prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to the lesser offence of manslaughter on the day his trial was due to start - a decision the victim’s family did not agree with.
Now, the 24-year-old has been jailed for seven years for taking the life of a “well-loved member of the community and a warm and kind family woman”.
After seeing Herman jailed at Newcastle Crown Court, Detective Chief Inspector Shelley Hudson said: “This was a cowardly and violent attack and I am glad to see Sean Herman behind bars.
“Susan Fuller was a small woman who posed no threat to Herman but that did not stop him mowing her down and leaving her to die in her family’s arms.
“He deserves to spend a significant amount of time in prison so that we can make sure he does not bring any further harm to members of the community in Howdon.
“Susan was a well-loved member of the community and a warm and kind family woman. Her death has left a hole in their lives that will never be filled again.
“No sentence will ever bring her back to them but we will continue to support them through what must be an incredibly difficult time.”
It was on the morning of Friday October 27 last year that Mrs Fuller, who lived on Coldstream Gardens, Howdon, with her husband, David and sons, Barry, Dale and Scott, was killed.
The court heard Herman had had a “brief fling” with a former partner of Scott Fuller and there had been some bad feeling. However Herman insisted he did not go to the street that day for a confrontation but rather to buy cannabis from a different house.
Scott Fuller was getting dressed when he heard Herman’s Audi A3 revving and loud music playing and he went out and shouted at him, the court heard. Because of the commotion, Mrs Fuller and Barry Fuller also came out.
Herman drove up and down the street a number of times before the fatal collision.
Toby Hedworth QC, prosecuting, said: “Eventually the defendant put his car into reverse and accelerated backwards very quickly at an angle taking him across the pavement. “During what happened his brother, Barry, tried to grab Scott out of the way but the vehicle struck Mrs Fuller, pinning her against the wall outside her house, which is topped by railings. “Mrs Fuller fell to the ground. “When the car released itself from the wall it ran over her causing the catastrophic injuries from which she died.” Mr Hedworth referred to witness statements by people in the street. One said they saw stones being thrown at Herman’s car. They said three men were shouting at the driver’s side of the car and the “mother was trying to be a peacekeeper and taking the males away”.
A doctor and air ambulance attended but nothing could be done to save Mrs Fuller and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Herman, who said he had acted in panic, sped from the scene but later handed himself in to police and gave a prepared statement in which he said he had not deliberately gone out to kill or harm anyone.
Mr Hedworth said: “He said he was devastated, had not stopped vomiting and was genuinely sorry.
“He insisted he had not been driving erratically and said he was there to buy cannabis from a place he had bought it from before.
“He said he pulled up in the street then saw Scott Fuller running towards the car.
“He said he panicked and reversed away from a male on his bonnet.
“He felt the car thud and thought he had hit a kerb or wall. Then he drove away scared.”
Addressing the decision by the prosecution to accept a guilty plea to manslaughter instead of pursuing a trial on the allegation of murder, Mr Hedworth told the court: “I make it
This was a cowardly and violent attack and I am glad to see Sean Herman behind bars. Det Chief Inspector Shelley Hudson
plain, to the deceased’s family it’s not a resolution that finds favour with them.
“I have sought to explain the reasons behind it to those close family members.
“It’s perhaps understandable, given the circumstances that they take a different view but we, on behalf of the prosecution, have to look independently and objectively at all the evidence available to us.”
Herman, of Tillmouth Avenue, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, who has one previous conviction, for careless driving, was told he must serve half of the seven-year sentence behind bars, minus the time he has done on remand. He will be banned from driving for three years after his release.
Mr Justice Goss told him: “The reversing manoeuvre caused you to collide with considerable force with the wall, a significant part of which was demolished, crushing Mrs Fuller in the process then running over her as you drove forward extricating the car from the wall.
“It was soon apparent Mrs Fuller had sustained catastrophic head and crushing injuries and she died at the scene. Nothing this court can do can undo what you have done.
“It was a tragic loss of life and has had a devastating impact on her family.
“She did nothing wrong that morning and was a wholly innocent victim of these events.”
“Although you did not intend to cause serious injury it was reasonably foreseeable such injury might result by your driving.”
Dafydd Enoch QC, defending, said: “The defendant himself will have to live with the consequences of what happened for the rest of his life as well.
“He did not travel to the scene for a confrontation with the Fullers. The Fullers were being aggressive. They were around the car in various positions at various times.
“The defendant reversed because one of the Fullers was in front of him.
“He accepts he panicked and reversed, reckless as to whether anyone was in his path and therefore caused a risk of injury.
“No sentence will bring back Mrs Fuller or assuage the grief of her family.”
Flowers at the scene on Coldstream Gardens where Susan Fuller died Susan Fuller