An 81-year-old man who acted as a getaway driver for a county lines drug dealer because he felt “isolated” has been jailed.
Ian Hemmens helped the dealer escape justice after he stabbed a rival in a potentially fatal attack.
The retired burger van worker was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court after he was found guilty of assisting the offender, alleged to be Mahamud Sami, who has fled the country to Bahrain.
Hemmens showed no emotion as he was told by Judge Roger Hetherington he would serve a jail term of nine months.
His co-defendant, Akeem Adebayo, 23, was jailed for nine years for wounding with intent and two charges of possessing cocaine and heroin with intent to supply.
Judge Hetherington told Hemmens: “You assisted an offender by driving him away from the scene when you knew he must have been involved in a serious assault, you saw blood on him and you undoubtedly knew that he had been involved in drug dealing.
“But your involvement was considerably more than this one journey, you made several journeys on that day and on the night before, you would have been aware that you were being used as a driver whose age and appearance would have been unlikely to draw attention.”
Amy Packham, prosecuting, told the court a dispute broke out with a rival “drug dealer”, Dimitrijs Semelis, from Lithuania, which led to Adebayo and Mr Sami chasing him while families with young children were nearby.
Adebayo then held Mr Semelis on the ground and shouted “Just f***ing stab him” three times, while Mr Sami stabbed him five or six times, Ms Packham said.
She said Hemmens had remained in contact with Mr Sami and arranged for him to bring the car nearby to pick him up.
She said: “He was seen to sprint to the car, jumped in the back of the car and disappeared into the footwell.
“Assisting the offender was effective, it not only took Mr Sami from the scene and prevent[ed] his arrest, it then allowed Mr Sami to leave the Chichester area and then the country.
“The last known whereabouts is he was on a flight to Bahrain.
“There is an all-ports warning out for him which has not been triggered yet.”
Describing the injuries suffered by Mr Semelis, which including a “potentially fatal” punctured lung, Ms Packham said: “It was life-threatening, he was lucky he was treated so quickly and successfully.”
Mark Kessler, defending Hemmens, said: “It’s unusual to find a man of Mr Hemmens’s background should be in court at his age for a matter of this nature, it’s very strange indeed.”
Saying the client’s isolation had led to his involvement, he added: “The defendant admits that he likes talking to people and that is why it has come about.”
Additional reporting by Press Association