Driver jailed for seven years

The Chronicle - - Front Page - By ROB KENNEDY Court Re­porter rob.kennedy@ncj­me­ @Chron­i­cleCourt

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.”

Sean Herman

Flow­ers at the scene on Cold­stream Gar­dens where Su­san Fuller died Su­san Fuller

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