Jail threat for hit-and-run driver

PUBLISHED: 07:15 10 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

A teenage hit-and-run driver who sped off after running over and killing a pedestrian was yesterday warned he faces a "substantial" jail term.

A teenage hit-and-run driver who sped off after running over and killing a pedestrian was yesterday warned he faces a "substantial" jail term.

Daniel Hood sobbed in the dock as a jury found him guilty of causing the death of Min Zheng by dangerous driving on one of the main routes into King's Lynn last summer.

Emotions ran high among the 18-year-old's family in the public gallery at Lynn Crown Court as Judge Daniel Worsley told him: "In virtually every case of causing death by dangerous driving, a substantial custodial sentence is possible.

"That's what you must expect and don't be under the slightest misapprehension that anything else will happen."

Hood was heading out of town on a trip to McDonald's with his friends at about 8.15pm on June 2 last year when he hit Mr Zheng crossing London Road.

The 38-year-old Chinese migrant worker was struck at about 41mph - more than a third over the speed limit - and was catapulted in to the air by Hood's Peugeot 306.

As Mr Zheng lay fatally injured in the road close to AJ Coggles funeral directors, Hood panicked and was seen "screaming off" towards South Gate.

He fled home to Mariners Way, North Lynn, and discussed what he should do with his parents before turning himself in to police about 20 minutes later.

Meanwhile witnesses summoned an ambulance and Mr Zheng was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

It emerged after the verdict that the then 17-year-old had been banned for 42 days just three months before the hit-and-run after he was caught speeding along Lynn's 20mph South Quay at 45mph.

The four-day trial heard conflicting evidence over whether Hood was in the correct lane as he approached a bend just before the accident, and whether he had just overtaken another car.

Hood claimed he was in the left-hand lane and had checked his mirrors for "two or three seconds" because he heard a "revving noise" behind him.

When he then looked to the road ahead he spotted someone crossing the road, from right to left, just eight metres away.

The pedestrian changed direction when he saw the Peugeot and headed back to the opposite kerb at the same moment that Hood swerved to the right to avoid him.

He said there was nothing he could do to avoid a collision and could not explain why he had driven off - he was "scared he had hit someone" and his mind was a blank.

Richard Potts, prosecuting, said: "When you are in control of a motor vehicle moving at speed, you are in control of a deadly weapon.

"Effectively it's around about a ton of metal moving under your control," he said, pointing out that a car at 40mph can travel 175ft in three seconds.

"The defendant wasn't looking ahead over a considerable distance so he wasn't able to see the man crossing the road."

Jeremy Lynn, for Hood, said his client believed his driving - apart from being too fast - was "unexceptional" and normal for the conditions.

He said: "The tragedy of this case is not just that Mr Zheng died, but at the very same moment the defendant is formulating his avoidance strategy, so is Mr Zheng.

"Both of them at the same moment chose a course of action that put them on a collision course."

The case was adjourned for sentence and Hood bailed to July 7.

Speaking after the case, West Norfolk Chinese Association chairman Kwai Li said he had been in contact with Mr Zheng's family in China since the tragedy.

The association raised £1,000 last year and sent it back to his wife and teenage daughter to try to help them through the first few weeks without Mr Zheng's wages.

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