A “cowardly” killer refused to attend court for sentencing for the murder of a grandfather he killed with his own car. David Ford, 62, was mown down by Jermaine Richards, 31, while preparing for a fishing trip with his son Ryan, who was also attacked. Richards approached the pair as they loaded David’s Kia Sportage with angling gear at 5.45am on September 3, 2022, and demanded a lift. Richards then turned violent and punched Ryan when this was refused. Richards initially fled, but Mr Ford saw Richards a second time and confronted him for the attack on his son.
Richards climbed into a member of the public’s car, before getting out and beating them to the ground before continuing the assault as they lay prone.
He then stole Mr Ford’s car and drove off, before returning and running the grandfather over, Mr Ford later died in hospital. His son Ryan was left with a serious brain injury after the assault, the court was told.
A jury heard Mr Ford suffered multiple “catastrophic injuries” from the car driving over him and last month Richards was found guilty of murder.
A prior sentencing was adjourned because Richards wouldn’t leave his cell and he again refused to do so on Monday April 24 when he was jailed for life in his absence.
The killer was branded “arrogant” by Judge Jeremy Richardson KC, who told Sheffield Crown Court: “I regard the refusal of the defendant to attend court to be an act of cowardice. His arrogance is also demonstrated by this conduct.
“It is plain the defendant is replete with habitual violence. It is deeply ingrained. He is, in my judgment, an exceptionally volatile and dangerous man.
“I have my doubts whether it will ever be safe to release him.”
The judge said he was “not prepared to endanger the lives of prison officers to secure his attendance” by exercising the powers available to him.
He added: “I have no doubt whatsoever that the defendant took aim at David Ford. The CCTV plainly reveals this.
“I have not a shred of doubt the defendant was using the car as a weapon – indeed he was using David Ford’s own car, of which the defendant had unlawful possession, to cause his really serious injuries.
“He suffered these injuries and died some while later despite the best efforts of the paramedics and medical staff.
“I shall not overlook the fact that Ryan Ford witnessed the cruel murder of his father when he was deliberately run-over by the defendant.”
Speaking after sentencing, Mr Ford’s heartbroken wife of 42 years said his shoes are still on the doormat at their home in Sheffield, South Yorks.
In a statement released by police, she said: “The fact he went out fishing one day and never came home has caused such a shock to me that I cannot accept it.
“Dave’s shoes are still on my doormat at home and his coat is hung up by the front door. I cannot move them because if I did so I would have to accept that he is gone. I cannot do this.
“If he was ill and died I could accept this, but the fact he went out fishing one day and never came home has caused such a shock to me that I cannot accept it.
“The hard thing is that Dave did not die because of natural causes, he died because of the decisions made by Jermaine Richards.”
Mrs Ford said she met her husband when she was 16 years old and they were married for 42 years.
She said: “We used to do everything together – Dave was me and I was Dave. It was hard to see where one of us started and the other one ended.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Knowles, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We know that seeing Richards sentenced will never undo the pain and heartache the Ford family will still be feeling.
“But we hope seeing him go to prison will help them start to move forward from this horrendous incident.”
Richards, who was also found not guilty of two counts of racially aggravated public order against two police officers last month during his trial, was jailed for life.
He will serve a minimum of 26 years before he is eligible for parole.
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