Getaway driver who killed accomplice crashing into tree after Coventry robbery discharged - The Coventry Observer

9th Aug, 2022

Getaway driver who killed accomplice crashing into tree after Coventry robbery discharged

Editorial Correspondent 21st Jun, 2018 Updated: 22nd Jun, 2018

A GETAWAY driver who crashed into a tree, killing one of his accomplices and injuring another as they fled after an armed robbery at a Coventry store, has been given an absolute discharge.

Amazingly, that was the only disposal a judge at Warwick Crown Court could impose on Neil Docherty, who had suffered severe brain damage in the crash in 2013.

An earlier hearing had established that because of his mental condition as a result of the crash, Docherty, 41, of Hardy Road, Radford, Coventry, was unfit to take part in his own trial.

Following a ‘trial of fact’ in his absence in December, a jury found that Docherty ‘did the acts alleged’ against him of robbery and causing death by dangerous driving.

Since then, there have been various hearings and reports to consider the best way of dealing with him.

But because of the finding that he was unfit to stand trial, there were only three possible disposals – a hospital order under the Mental Health Act, supervision or an absolute discharge.

Andrew Horsell, defending, pointed out that psychiatrists had concluded a hospital order was not appropriate because Docherty does not have a treatable mental condition.

And Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed that both the Probation Service and Coventry Social Services have said there was nothing they could do by way of supervision.

“He would have received a sentence of at least ten years in prison. He has been found to have killed a man in a car crash following an armed robbery, and he has been convicted of robbery before.

“I have little alternative, no matter how uncomfortable I am, to sentence Mr Docherty on each of these matters to an absolute discharge.”

But Judge Lockhart indicated: “My biggest concern is the protection of the public going forward.”

He said that although doctors say it is unlikely there will be a change in Docherty’s condition in the near future, ‘there may be change in the mid- to long-term, and Mr Docherty may be fit to stand trial or to take part in a violent plan.’

“If in the future he is fit to be tried, in my judgement, in the interests of justice, he should be tried,” he added.

During the trial, prosecutor Ben Close said the case involved an armed robbery at the One Stop store in Birmingham Road, Allesley Village, on December 4, 2013, and its aftermath.

Mr Close told the court that three masked men entered the shop, with at least one carrying a crowbar, and ordered staff to get down on the floor.

One of them forced open a till and took £2,400 in cash, while Docherty and the third man stole cigarettes.

But their Peugeot 307 getaway car crashed into a tree in Brownhills Green Road by the Waste Lane junction, killing Mr Molloy and seriously injuring Docherty and Keith Bailey.

“The prosecution say Mr Docherty was the person who was driving, and that the crash was caused by him driving in a dangerous way,” said Mr Close.

He said the car had been seen driving at excessive speed before turning into Brownhills Green Road, where it took a bend without braking and crashed into the tree.

Because the men in the car had been thrown around by the force of the impact, there was initially some confusion about who was where in the front.

But although his upper body was across on the passenger side, Docherty’s legs were on the driver’s side, said Mr Close.

And he pointed out the car had been sold to Docherty’s girlfriend about a month earlier, since when the seller had seen both her and Docherty driving it.

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