Drunk driver who killed student wanted 'one last drink before lockdown'

·4 min read
Will Chri
Manish Shah was jailed for more than six years for killing Will Christmas in a hit and run while drunk last year. (Reach)

A hit-and-run driver who killed a man after enjoying a "last chance" drink before lockdown has been jailed.

Manish Shah, a marketing manager from Loughborough, had been drinking with work colleagues in Nottingham on the night of March 19 last year, describing it as "a last chance" to see them before lockdown hit.

Shah was around three times over the drink drive limit and driving at speeds of about 46mph on a 30mph road when he ploughed into 19-year-old Will Christmas. 

Christmas died at the scene.

A sentencing hearing at Nottingham Crown Court heard that Shah fled the scene as Christmas's friends raced to his aid. 

Shah, 38, of Barsby Drive, Loughborough, was jailed for more than six years having previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, and dangerous driving

19-year-old Will Christmas was killed in the hit and run in March last year (reach)
Will Christmas, 19, was killed in the hit and run in March last year. (Reach)

Friends described the horrifying moment they heard 'a loud bang' and saw their friend 'thrown' into the air by a car speeding towards them. 

Police who caught up with Shah by identifying his silver Ford Focus - its screen shattered by impact of Christmas's body - said he was heavily intoxicated, slurring, and struggled to stand without the aid of an officer.

He refused breath and blood tests but finally agreed to provide a urine sample, the court heard. He was around "two and a half to three times over the legal limit", and described by police as "significantly intoxicated".

This was more than the three pints he told police he had consumed, the prosecution stated. He was not insured and had an expired licence and MOT.

Through his solicitor, Shah said the event had left him "remorseful". 

The car driven by marketing manager Manish Shah (reach)
The car driven by marketing manager Manish Shah. (Reach)

Christmas, from Dorset, was a first-year student at the University of Nottingham, studying politics and international relations, who aspired to having a career with the United Nations. 

His father Matthew told the court: "The death of my son has unsurprisingly impacted on my life and that of his family and friends in ways which are impossible to express.

"What is devastating is the driver did not stop. He just drove on without regard to his victim. 

"He left my son for dead in the middle of the road.

"He has been taken from us in his prime and cast a dark shadow on his surviving twin. Will is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing at night. 

"He was stolen from us and I had no chance to say goodbye." 

The victim's twin brother Sam Christmas struggled to hold back his emotions as he told the court he felt Shah had taken away "part of my identity".

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He said he and his twin had barely spent 10 days apart in their 19 years of life, and that he now had to live without his "constant companion".

He described Shah's actions as "callous and despicable".

"His disrespect for my brother's life has cost my family everything.

"Will was far too young and the world has been robbed of his ability and kindness."

The twins' mother Helen said: "He loved life and wanted to live it to the full. He was funny and one of the best friends anyone could have. He was thoughtful and kind.

"He worked in a dementia home and made the old ladies laugh and cheered up the old men. He loved cricket, hockey and cross country running and was an academic.

"Will loved us and we loved him. I will never hold him again, cook for him, or watch his career blossom." 

Shah was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison and was also disqualified from driving for eight years and four months. 

Passing sentence, Judge Steven Coupland told the court that Shah continued to drive for 25 minutes before police caught up with him.

He said: "The way you drove was the sole cause of his death. He was not to blame. The fault of this collision is yours and yours alone. 

"You drove straight into him causing catastrophic injuries that led to his death. Rather than try and help the person you hit you thought of yourself.

"You were more concerned about yourself. You did not cooperate with the police and you seemed more concerned about your car than the person you hit.

"This is a graphic example of the risks anyone takes after drink driving."

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