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05th Mar 2023

Drink-driver killed mum in one of ‘worst hit-and-run cases ever seen’ after dragging her body 900 metres

Charlie Herbert

He was more than twice over the limit and had been smoking cannabis

A drink-driver who killed a mum in one of “the worst hit-and-run cases ever seen” after he dragged her body 900 metres along a road has been jailed.

Pierce Whelan, 35, was twice the drink-drive limit and had been smoking cannabis when he decided to take his dad’s car home on June 19, 2021, despite having a taxi already booked.

CCTV footage captured him driving erratically past Nuneaton Justice Centre along Vicarage Street towards Roanne Ringway.

At 11:21pm, Whelan’s vehicle collided with two pedestrians, a 26-year-old man from Nuneaton and mum-of-one Nawelle Tina Ormerod, 37.

Whelan didn’t stop though, and Ormerod was dragged under the vehicle for 900 metres. She was eventually found severely injured in Marlborough Road, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The second pedestrian was a 26-year-old man from Nuneaton who was thrown over the vehicle and sustained life changing injuries.

Whelan then abandoned the car and visited his girlfriend before handing himself into police.

Tests later confirmed the concentration of alcohol in Whelan’s breath was 82 micrograms compared to the legal limit of 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, and a saliva test showed he had smoked cannabis.

Whelan, from Nuneaton, was sentenced to 14 years’ custody for manslaughter and 3 years’ custody for causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Warwick Crown Court on Friday. He admitted both charges and was also banned from the roads for life.

The sentences are to be served concurrently.

Emily Clewer of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This is one of the worst hit and run cases I have come across. Pierce Whelan knowing fully well he had hit someone failed to stop at the scene and continued driving his car with no regards for Nawelle Tina Ormerod who was trapped beneath his car.

“He had been drinking and smoking Cannabis when he left a friend’s house. Despite the fact that a taxi had been called to take him, his girlfriend and her children home, he was captured on CCTV driving away from the address knowing he was unfit to drive, and that decision cost an innocent woman her life.

“I hope this case serves as a warning to others who may be tempted to drink and drive. Driving while intoxicated ruins lives, and we will prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law. Our thoughts are with the victim’s family.”

Inspector Michael Huntley, from Warwickshire Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “The horrific consequences of Pierce Whelan’s actions on June 19, 2021, have been devastating for the family and everyone who knew Nawelle Ormerod.

“Nawelle leaves a husband and son, who keenly feel their loss and my thoughts remain with them. Lives changed forever on that day, including the life of the man who was also hit by Whelan’s car.

“He received surgery to insert a metal plate and nine screws into the complex fracture on his right arm. These injuries have proven life changing, both physically and mentally.

“Pierce Whelan chose to drink alcohol, putting him at double the drink drive limit and smoke cannabis before getting into his car to drive that night. Associates who had been with him prior to the collision had ordered a taxi and repeatedly advised him not to drive.

“However, Mr Whelan ignored this advice and sped off in his vehicle prior to the arrival of the taxi. The tragic result of Mr Whelan’s actions should serve as a stark reminder to all drivers of the lawful and moral responsibility incumbent on us all when driving.

“Mr Whelan behaved in a totally irresponsible manner in driving whilst unfit and then failing to stop and remain at the scene of the collision, which ultimately led to devastating consequences. I would like to thank the members of the public, police officers and colleagues in the West Midlands Ambulance Service who responded on the night of the collision, in what was clearly a very traumatic and complex scene. I would also like to thank all the investigation team, who conducted a detailed and thorough investigation, plus the CPS who prosecuted the case in court.”

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