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Uninsured driver killed rugby player in hit-and-run horror collision

Tayo Jones, the driver of the uninsured car
Tayo Jones, the driver of the uninsured car

An unlicensed and uninsured motorist who killed a rugby player in a crash has been jailed for more than three years.

Wannabe rap musician Tayo Jones, 22, was the subject of a suspended sentence for supplying cannabis when he knocked down and killed Dan Hickey, 25, in the Bristol suburb of Clifton, UK, on August 29 last year.

Jones was travelling at 30mph down the middle of 20mph Gordon Road and "marginally" on the wrong side of the carriageway when he struck Mr Hickey.

Mr Hickey, who may have been crouching down to tie his shoelaces, died almost instantly from his injuries, Bristol Crown Court heard.

Dan Hickey

Jones, who had a string of previous motoring convictions, realised he had hit something and stopped but did not get out of the Ford Fiesta hire car, which had been rented by a friend, to check and instead drove off. He handed himself into police three days' later.

Judge Euan Ambrose criticised Jones' lack of remorse for a message he posted on Facebook four months after killing Mr Hickey in which he boasted of driving at 50mph in a 20mph zone - a message seen by the victim's family. Accompanying the message was one of his rap videos.

"In those eight months you saw fit, in December last year, to post on your Facebook page a post about driving at 50mph in a 20mph zone," he said.

"That was seen by Mr Hickey's family and caused them enormous and avoidable suffering."

Neighbours described hearing the sound of a dull thud, breaking glass, the screeching of tyres and a car accelerating away shortly before 5am.

Mr Hickey, who played rugby for Bristol Saracens, was found dead outside the Richmond pub in Gordon Road at 6.45am by a delivery driver.

The Leicester University graduate, who worked in recruitment, had been making his way home to the Bishopston area of the city after a night out with work colleagues when he died.

Rachel Drake, prosecuting, said: "It is a residential street and it has a 20mph speed limit. His speed was at least 30mph, which the Crown say, in the circumstances made it dangerous.

"The Crown say that if Mr Jones had been driving on the left hand side of the road the collision would not have taken place.

"The court may consider that driving away from the scene was to avoid detection for failing to have a licence or insurance."

Jones, of Southville Road, Bristol pleaded guilty on the eve of his trial to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving. He had earlier admitted a charge of driving without a licence or insurance.

The court heard that just 15 days before Mr Hickey died, Jones received a four month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, for possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

And while on bail after being charged with causing death by dangerous driving, Jones breached his bail by committing a public order offence during a row with a member of railway staff at Bristol Temple Meads Station.

Jones also pleaded guilty to that public order offence and failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident.

Robert Duval, defending, said that Jones was remorseful for what he had done and had written a letter of apology to Mr Hickey's family.

"He had no idea he had been involved in a fatal road traffic accident. His failure to stop and check for damage is reprehensible," he said.

"This is a young man who acknowledges without question his responsibility and is clearly motivated to better himself in the future."

Jailing him for three and a half years, the judge said: "This is undoubtedly a tragic case, tragic because it involves the death of a remarkable young man.

"His death is a tragedy and there is no doubt the effect of it for his family and those that knew him will be profound and lifelong.

"You were aware of the incident and you stopped your car but you didn't get out. You did not go and investigate who or what you had hit. You drove off.

"Your primary concern was damage to your vehicle and you didn't have a licence or insurance. In other words your first thought was to yourself."

Mr Hickey's family, parents John and Cecilia, elder brother Joe and younger sister Elizabeth, released a statement after the hearing.

"As a family we have to learn how to go forward in our lives without him; this is now our own life sentence," they said.

"We hope that as we all move forward from this shattering experience, we take with us the need for compassion in our daily lives.

"Daniel was an inclusive and compassionate young man, who always made room for those people who might not have had the opportunities of life that he had.

"To continue this strong sense of inclusiveness a fund has been set up by his family and friends in his memory to keep Daniel's spirit alive."

Detective Constable Kiri Williams added: "Our thoughts and sympathies are firmly with the family and friends of Dan Hickey as they've been through a horrendous ordeal.

"The dangerous manner of Jones' driving meant Dan didn't stand a chance. His actions before and after this fatal collision were self-centred and thoroughly reckless."