Driver guilty of killing woman after bag-snatch

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A drug addict and handbag thief who ran down the television costume designer Elizabeth Sherlock as she tried to stop his getaway car was convicted of her murder yesterday.

Mark Woolley drove over Mrs Sherlock's body and sped away after a series of desperate manoeuvres had thrown her off the bonnet, and left her fatally injured in the road.

The Old Bailey jury has yet to reach a verdict on his girlfriend, Jackie Moorhouse, 24, who denies murder. She has admitted stealing Mrs Sherlock's bag at café in Euston station where she had been drinking coffee with her husband, Peter, 48, while waiting for a train to Lancashire. The jury will continue their deliberations today.

Mr Sherlock, a computer analyst who has been sitting through every day of the three-week trial, was joined by members of his family as the jury returned its guilty verdict yesterday.

Woolley, 36, had claimed the death was a "terrible accident" but the court was told that he had been seen smiling as he drove from the scene.

He showed no emotion but Ms Moorhouse burst into tears and held his hand as the couple, who have a one-year-old baby, were taken back to the cells.

Woolley had admitted manslaughter but had denied the more serious charge, which carries a mandatory life sentence. He was also convicted of theft. The court was told that Ms Moorhouse had been pictured on CCTV cameras wandering around the station on Easter Monday this year before snatching Mrs Sherlock's bag.

The court was also told that Ms Moorhouse and Woolley had a £300-a-day heroin habit between them. Ms Moorhouse stole up to six handbags a day, the court was told, with Woolley working as her getaway driver. That day they had gone to the station to steal.

Videotape footage seen by the jury showed Ms Moorhouse running through Euston station with Mrs Sherlock, 42, in close pursuit. She was heard to shout: "Stop that thief – she's got my bag."

Woolley was waiting for his accomplice in his Ford Fiesta outside the station, and as Ms Moorhouse got into the car, Mrs Sherlock spread herself over the bonnet to try to stop him from driving away.

But he drove off with Mrs Sherlock still gripping the windscreen wipers, then reversed and drove off again.

As they reached a major junction, and still refusing to throw the bag out of the window, Woolley reversed into a sidestreet where he hit a kerb and found a bus in his way.

Mrs Sherlock then fell off the car. Finding his way backwards blocked, Woolley drove over Mrs Sherlock dragging her body underneath the car, and she was "knocked about like a rag doll", the court was told. Ms Moorhouse told the court she felt two bumps as the car went over the victim.

She claimed that she had turned to Woolley and told him that he had driven over Mrs Sherlock. She said Woolley told her to shut up, but said her recollection was hazy because she had been taking crack cocaine.

Woolley told the court that he had been addicted for nine years, using heroin and crack cocaine, and needed to take drugs every four to five hours. Asked why he had not stopped when Mrs Sherlock first jumped on to the car, Woolley told the court: "Panic. I was scared. I did not know what it was about. It looked as if someone was after her [Moorhouse]."

The two were forced to abandon the car after two punctures and were seen walking away arm in arm. They then used Mrs Sherlock's cash card to draw out £100 and went to a house to get heroin, the court was told.

The couple, who lived together in north London, were arrested at a relative's house three days later, where they had been trying to hide under a bed.

The court was told that in a jacket found in the room was a note written by Ms Moorhouse, which read: "Dear Lord I have sinned. Forgive me for a terrible sin, God rest the poor woman's soul."