UK & World News

  • 9 November 2012, 22:16

Ex-Fugitive Wayne Smith Jailed For Seven Years

A fugitive couple who spent six years on the run have been jailed after giving themselves up in Cyprus.

Wayne Smith, 38, who jumped bail after a conviction for causing death by dangerous driving in Birmingham in 2005, was jailed for seven years and 10 months.

His partner Julie Anne Skelding, 40, who gave him a false alibi, was sentenced to one year and 10 months.

The pair fled the UK before they could be sentenced over the death of 22-year-old waiter Mohammed Idrees.

They handed themselves into authorities after they were exposed in the latest Most Wanted list released by Crimestoppers and the UK's Serious and Organised Crime Agency in September.

The couple had lived in the Turkish-controlled north of the divided island because it has no extradition treaty with the UK.

Before his arrest, Smith told Sky News: "It's become a living nightmare, because eventually your passport runs out. I never wanted to escape justice, I wanted time to consider my actions because I felt I was unfairly convicted.

"I was involved in a tragic accident. It was hurtful to see myself described as Most Wanted. I would never put myself in that category with terrorists and murderers.

"What I did was wrong, I killed a man, but it wasn't intentional. I was charged with the wrong offence and I am going back to launch an appeal."

Smith and a friend, who was jailed for three years, had been racing when their vehicles hit Mr Idrees as he crossed the road.

The first car hit Mr Idrees, then Smith's car hit him and dragged him more than 100 metres to his death.

Witnesses said the vehicles were doing about 50mph in a 30mph zone.

Smith claimed he drove off because a large group of Asian men were running towards him and he feared being attacked. He said he fled abroad because he received death threats which police failed to take seriously.

Before his arrest in Cyprus, the victim's brother Yusuf Mohammed appealed to Smith through Sky News: "I would say to him that he was man enough to take a life and he should own up to his actions.

"We have lost someone we loved dearly and we feel just anger towards Wayne Smith. We hope someone will spot him and help get him arrested."

Smith, a former account executive with a mobile phone company, was employed as an odd job man in Cyprus. Skelding worked in various bars frequented by ex-pats. He said they struggled financially.

Smith told Sky News: "I want to go back and face justice. It's about closure for me and closure for the family of the man who died.

"Their loss is tragic and I sympathise and I'm truly and deeply sorry. No-one wants to turn back the clocks more than I do if I could."

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