Driver who ran over and killed pedestrian in car park jailed 15 years

Range Rover driver who was arrested in Costa Coffee for running over and killing pedestrian in a car park is jailed for 15 years

  • Luke Dann was on trial at Plymouth Crown Court for the murder of David Kelly

A driver who was arrested in Costa Coffee for running over and killing a pedestrian in a car park has been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  

Luke Dann, 37, was on trial at Plymouth Crown Court for the murder of David Kelly, 42, on the night of March 21 this year. 

The Devon businessman claimed he hit Mr Kelly in a panic as he was fleeing after being the victim of an ‘attempted robbery’ at the scene. He added that the death of the pedestrian was a ‘complete accident’.

Dann can be seen in a video weeping as he was apprehended by a police officer and saying ‘what are you doing to me?’ as well as asking if he was ‘a real police officer’.

Dann previously denied the charges of murder and manslaughter but was convicted by a jury and he will now serve two thirds of his sentence before being released on licence.

Luke Dann sobbed as he was arrested for driving over David Kelly, 42, 

The 37-year-old has now been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison

Emergency services were first called at around 8.45pm on March 21 to Leigham Manor Drive in Plymouth following reports of a collision involving a car and a pedestrian. 

In a statement given to police, Dann had said he had turned his car around in Leigham Manor Drive and driven to the Costa Coffee shop on Marsh Mills Retail Park as he feared he was going to be ‘ambushed’ in his black Range Rover. He was later arrested on suspicion of murder.

The jury heard how Mr Kelly had been at the front of Dann’s car and gone under as the heavy vehicle moved forwards at a speed no faster than 10mph.

At least one of the large wheels rolled over Mr Kelly’s leg, torso and face, crushing his ribs and skull in the process and leaving him with ‘unsurvivable’ injuries.

Dann had consistently denied he murdered 42-year-old and on the first day of trial last week he pleaded not guilty to the alternative charge of manslaughter.

A third charge – causing death by dangerous driving – was also set to be considered but was effectively left as the jury returned its verdict on the more serious charge.

Summing up the case, Judge Peter Johnson told the jury it was a ‘dark night, a foul night in many ways’ adding that there was next to no lighting in Leigham Manor Drive. 

David Kelly (pictured), who was local to the area, died aged 42 on the night of March 21 this year

The footage shows Dann asking the police officer whether he is actually an officer

Police approached Dann in a Costa Coffee shop where he confirmed that he owned a Range Rover

During the sentencing on Wednesday morning, Ria Park, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the CPS South West, said: ‘Luke Dann’s aggressive and reckless behaviour cost David Kelly his life. 

‘Dann refused to take responsibility for his actions. However, following a thorough investigation, the CPS was able to build and present a strong case to the jury who agreed that the defendant hit Mr Kelly with his car, resulting in his tragic death.

‘Nothing can bring Mr Kelly back to his loved ones, but I hope this conviction goes some way to comfort them at this difficult time. All drivers have a duty to act responsibly whilst behind the wheel of a vehicle; this case shows the devastating consequences of not doing so.’

John Ryder KC raised the issue of self defence, arguing that one witness clearly stated the aggressive manner of Mr Kelly who ‘launched a violent attack’ on not just the car but upon Dann himself, as shown by the injury he suffered.

He suggested it was undoubtedly a ‘very violent attack’ and accordingly Dann’s response that it was ‘notionally’ or ‘analogously’ self defence ‘cannot be discounted’.

Judge Johnson said he was also considering a ‘discretionary disqualification’ from driving ‘for 10 years’.

After hearing the evidence the jury retired and returned a guilty verdict for the offence of manslaughter on 12 September. They found him not guilty of murder.

Prosecutors said that Dann had ‘deliberately’ driven over Mr Kelly and knew immediately what he had done

Witnesses said that Mr Kelly had been ‘off his head’ and had an aggressive confrontation with Dann in a lane in Plymouth, before he was driven over

In a prepared statement to police, Dann said he had been travelling home from a snooker hall and had been struck in his car, before he did a three-point turn and reversed away

In sentencing, Judge Peter Johnson said: ‘I reject the suggestion that there was any element of self-defence in your actions. You deliberately drove towards him [David Kelly] using your car as a weapon.’

He said that Dann had ‘shamefully called 999’ after the incident ‘not for Mr Kelly but to prepare your defence’, adding, ‘I cannot believe you didn’t tell the operator you had driven over someone’.

He sentenced Dann to 15 years in prison and imposed a discretionary driving ban.

DI Rosson continued: ‘We welcome the verdict reached by the jury after hearing the evidence in the trial and deliberating on their decision.

‘This has been a complex investigation and I thank and commend all those involved within the Police investigation team, those who provided evidence and expertise to the case and the prosecution team.

‘I hope the outcome reached and sentence given will bring some closure to David’s family and friends.’

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