He failed to admit his 'obvious guilt': Grief-stricken family hit out after Walsall hit-and-run driver is locked up for killing grandfather
A grandfather's grief stricken family told today how their misery was made worse by the hit and run motorist whose dangerous driving killed him.
Terry Poole ploughed into pedestrian Salvatore Bongiovi as the 80-year-old crossed the road after doing a good turn for a sick friend.
The 42-year-old convicted criminal was trying to escape in a Mercedes after stealing £30 worth of petrol from a nearby garage when tragedy struck in Lichfield Road, Walsall on April 19.
The victim’s daughter-in-law, Mrs Joanne Bongiovi, said after the defendant had been jailed for nine years at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday: “This whole process has been aggravated by his failure to admit his obvious guilt.
“He frustrated the judicial process by indicating he was going to enter a guilty plea, only to retract that offer at the last minute, deny the offence and provide a defence case statement blaming his deceased girlfriend.
“In trying to avoid being caught for the theft of £30 worth of petrol the defendant drove extremely dangerously in a built up area with complete disregard for the safety of others, causing the death of my father-in-law.
“Poole’s excessive speed gave him no opportunity to avoid the collision and, even after it happened, the defendant continued to drive dangerously putting the lives of others at risk.”
Poole, who had neither driving licence nor insurance, had just overtaken several cars and was doing at least 56 mph in a 30 limit when he mowed down Mr Bongiovi.
The pensioner had just dropped off a bag of groceries for a sick friend and was going to his Walsall home.
He was near the centre of the street when the Mercedes – on false plates and approaching much faster than he could have expected – hit him.
He was hurled into the air, breaking the windscreen of the car before being thrown to the ground, suffering fractures to the head, chest and leg. He died in hospital two days later.
Poole made no attempt to stop after mowing down the man – 280 metres after the point of impact the car had reached 64mph while speeding away from the scene.
Poole, was caught several hours later after parking the car in Brundard Close, Blakenall. Nearby was a broken false number plate used on the car during the petrol theft.
The shameless defendant used the death of his girlfriend Amanda Brown – from a suspected drug overdose less than a month later – in a callous bid to avoid blame.
He alleged she had been behind the wheel rather than in the passenger seat when disaster struck – a claim never made while she was alive. Judge Nicholas Webb told Poole, who was unanimously convicted by the jury of causing the death by dangerous driving: “You behaved with utter irresponsibility by failing to stop and blaming Miss Brown for the driving. It was you, and you entirely, who caused this and your expressions of regret carry little weight as a result.”
The defendant was fleeing from a petrol station in nearby Ablewell Street which he had left without paying for £30 worth of fuel.
Miss Brown put the fuel in the vehicle before getting back into the passenger seat, with Poole immediately driving off, the court heard.
Przemyslaw Krzysiak, an employee at the garage, gave chase in a van but lost the Mercedes. But he was certain a man was driving. Eyewitnesses estimated its speed at between 70 and 90mph during the two and a half mile escape bid.
Poole overtook several cars as once as he hurtled along Lichfield Road which Mr Bongioui was half way across when hit as the Mercedes driver pulled back onto the right side of the street.
The defendant from Meadowsweet Way, Blakenall, admitted making off from the petrol station without paying but had denied causing death by dangerous driving.
Pc Paul du Cros, from West Midlands Police’s Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This collision has had a devastating effect on the family of Mr Bongiovi. We are pleased with the sentence, which will give Poole time to contemplate the consequences of his actions.”