Two men jailed for killing holidaymaker in car hijack attempt

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Two men who admitted killing a holidaymaker in a failed car-jacking attempt at an airport were each sentenced to seven-and-a-half years' detention yesterday. A third man received four years' detention.

Two men who admitted killing a holidaymaker in a failed car-jacking attempt at an airport were each sentenced to seven-and-a-half years' detention yesterday. A third man received four years' detention.

Sentencing the men at Liverpool Crown Court, Mr Justice Hughes said: "A decent person lost his life and a family suffered a loss that will last indefinitely because of your greed and selfishness."

Dean Taylor, 17, of no fixed address, and Craig Abbott, 21, from Speke, Merseyside, were given custodial sentences after they pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Michael Howard, 57, outside Liverpool John Lennon airport. They also admitted conspiracy to steal, along with a third man, Neil Dolan, 20, also from Speke, who was sentenced to four years.

Mr Howard, from Hesketh Bank, near Preston in Lancashire, was unloading luggage from the boot of his Volvo estate outside the airport when Taylor jumped from the Rover 216 he was travelling in and into the Howards' car. Mr Howard was killed in front of his wife, Elaine, 52, as he tried to stop the car being stolen on 6 January.

The court heard that Mr Howard, who had three children, stepped in front of the vehicle to stop it being stolen. Abbott drove the Rover forward, pinning Mr Howard between the two cars and forcing him to fall to the ground. The wheels of the Volvo passed over his legs and his body was dragged under the vehicle, crushing him to death. In the panic, Taylor leapt out of the Howards' car and into the Rover, which was driven away by Abbott. Dolan was a backseat passenger.

Airport officials said the attempted theft of Mr Howard's Volvo was the second carjacking incident in a month. Duncan Coulthard, the father of the Formula One racing driver David Coulthard, had his £50,000 Volkswagen Touareg 4x4 stolen in a similar incident in December, although no one was injured.

The day after Mr Howard's death, Taylor and Dolan handed themselves in to the police but refused to answer any questions. Abbott was arrested on 8 January and immediately admitted his involvement in the crime. It transpired that the three defendants had a string of criminal convictions, the court heard. Taylor was on bail for burglary when the events of 6 January unfolded.

Patrick Cosgrove QC, appearing for the defence of Taylor, described him as a "street child" who had fallen into a life of crime, but there was no intention on his part to kill Mr Howard.

John McDermott, QC, appearing for the defence of Abbot, argued that he had played a "subsidiary" role by driving the Rover and had admitted his guilt immediately.

"From the word go he was remorseful and contrite. In a statement he told police, 'I am just devastated by what happened and I am glad it's off my chest'," Mr McDermott added.

Mr Justice Hughes said: "You, Abbott, said to the police afterwards that if it had been your grandfather, you would have killed the people responsible ... No sentence can - nor should it - try to put a price on life. Life is beyond price."

Mr Howard's family showed no emotion as the sentences were read out. But after the hearing Mrs Howard said: "I would have liked to see the maximum the law could give for the crime. Anything under 10 years is not enough. I have accepted it was not murder ... but their actions have shattered my family."