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Cyprus Hit-And-Run Fugitive Wayne Smith Jailed For Seven Years For Killing Mohammed Idrees

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BIRMINGHAM
The couple were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court | Alamy

A killer-driver who fled to Cyprus in 2006 after a horrific hit-and-run accident has been jailed for seven years and 10 months.

Wayne Smith, 38, returned to Britain voluntarily last month after spending six years on the run in northern Cyprus, which has no extradition treaty with the UK.

Smith was sentenced alongside his partner, Julie Anne Skelding, who also jumped bail to travel to Cyprus after being convicted of perverting the course of justice in September 2006.

Skelding, 40, was jailed for 22 months at Birmingham Crown Court today.

Smith, from Billesley, Birmingham, was found guilty in 2006 at the same court of causing the death of 22-year-old pedestrian Mohammed Idrees.

Skelding was convicted of perverting the course of justice in relation to the inquiry into the fatal accident and also admitted a Bail Act offence on her return to Britain.

The couple handed themselves in to authorities in Nicosia last month after the launch of Operation Zygos, a campaign by Crimestoppers, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Cyprus Police to track down fugitives wanted for offences committed in Britain.

Mr Idrees, who was with several friends, was initially struck by a car being driven by a friend of Smith in June 2005.
The victim was thrown into the air by the first impact and later dragged almost 150 metres by Smith's speeding Toyota.

Judge Roderick Henderson was told by defence counsel that neither Smith nor Skelding had been living "the high life" in Cyprus, but had instead undertook menial jobs for low wages.

Addressing both defendants, the judge said they had refused to face up to what they had done and had maintained lies about Smith's involvement in the crash for seven weeks during the early stages of the police inquiry.

The judge told the couple: "It was not until you were faced with the overwhelming case against you, and you knew perfectly well that there was no way out, that you both faced up to what you had done."

After their convictions but before their scheduled sentencing hearing, the pair had "yet again chosen the cowardly way out" by fleeing to Cyprus, Judge Henderson added.

Neither vehicle stopped at the scene of the fatal collision on Bordesley Green Road, Alum Rock, Birmingham.

The driver of the first vehicle subsequently gave himself up to police and has already served his sentence.

Speaking after Smith and Skelding were also sentenced, Sergeant Dave Lawrence, of West Midlands Police, said: "This is about justice for a family who have waited seven years for this man to be sentenced for the crime he committed.

"The length of the sentence will, in no way, compensate for the loss of Mohammed, but will hopefully provide some closure.

"I would like to offer them my sincerest condolences once again for their loss, as I did seven years ago."

In a statement issued by police, the victim's brother, Mohammed Fiaz Yusuf, said: "I do not have the words to describe the impact that my brother's death has had on our lives.

"My brother was the life and soul of our family and always had a smile which warmed everyone's hearts.

"He was loved by everyone, not just the family, and touched many hearts through his gentle nature. I feel that a big part of our lives is missing and no-one has ever laughed in my family whole-heartedly since his death."