Thief admits running over and killing car's owner

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The Independent Online

A thief who ran over a woman as she tried to stop him stealing her car admitted manslaughter today.

Shaun Higgins left Lynda Hankey, 42, for dead when he drove off in her beloved MG sports car outside her home in Wigan, Greater Manchester, in January.

The incident was witnessed by her female partner, Jamie Hudson, and Ms Hudson's five-year-old son.

Higgins, of Church Street, Leigh, Wigan, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Liverpool Crown Court.

He had admitted aggravated vehicle-taking and causing death by dangerous driving while disqualified from driving at a previous hearing in March.

Ms Hankey, the mother-of-two adult sons, was planning a shopping trip with Ms Hudson and had left the engine running while she went into her house momentarily and returned to see Higgins, 23, sitting in her vehicle.

As he sped off, her head was smashed into the bonnet of the yellow MG and she was hurled into the road outside the house in Worsley Mesnes.

The DHL delivery driver later died of her injuries at hospital.

Higgins had pleaded not guilty to murder and was due to stand trial next week.

But at court today, Gordon Cole QC, asked for the charge to be put again.

This time the defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter as an alternative to murder.

Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, said: "This is not a resolution which will bring happiness to Ms Hankey's family.

"Nevertheless, it is the appropriate course."

Ms Hudson attended court supported by family and friends.

As Higgins gave his plea, she watched him through a gap in a screen between the dock and the public gallery.

Mr Edis said Higgins was already aware of Ms Hankey as he turned the car around at the end of the road.

The barrister said he then "accelerated towards her" on the icy road, reaching a speed of just less than 30mph.

"His determination was to escape," Mr Edis said.

"As he set off he must have thought she would jump out of the way.

"He may not have cared.

"But he knew what the risk of such action might be and, as the court now knows, the consequences were fatal."

Judge Clifton was told that Higgins already has a lengthy criminal record but the details were not read out in open court.

The judge was also given a copy of Ms Hudson's victim impact statement along with a drawing from her young son.

The judge remanded Higgins in custody until sentencing on July 23.

He told the defendant to expect a "long sentence in one way or another".