Blyth man accused of murdering Cramlington man Sheldon Flanighan thought he was about to be attacked, court hears

A man who killed an off-duty ambulance worker has told jurors he drove his van towards people that night to scare them because he thought he was about to be attacked.
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Sheldon Flanighan had been socialising with his pal Wayne Common on April 1 this year at the Bay Horse Inn in Cramlington, when they were both run over by Toby Kelly.

Prosecutors say that Kelly struck Mr Flanighan by reversing over him, before going on to strike him again by driving forwards onto his body.

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Paramedics rushed to the scene but the 55-year-old, who worked for the North East Ambulance Service, was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr Common suffered life-threatening injuries but survived.

Cramlington man Sheldon Flanighan died after being knocked down outside The Bay Horse on April 1.Cramlington man Sheldon Flanighan died after being knocked down outside The Bay Horse on April 1.
Cramlington man Sheldon Flanighan died after being knocked down outside The Bay Horse on April 1.

Kelly, 38, of Wansbeck Avenue, Blyth, denies murder and attempted murder and is being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

Earlier this week he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Flanighan and causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Common.

Giving evidence from the witness box, Kelly told jurors he feels "gutted, terrible" about what happened and had not realised he had ran over anyone when he drove away that night.

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Jurors have heard Mr Flanighan and Mr Common had gone to the pub with another friend, called Kevin Patterson, that night.

Newcastle Crown Court. Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.

The men were just metres away from Kelly, his partner Shannon Wooden, and their friend David Fairclough, who had been drinking inside the bar for several hours.

The court heard Kelly's group had been told by staff they would no longer be served alcohol, which led to Ms Wooden smashing a number of glasses on the floor in frustration.

Footage then showed Kelly engaging in an altercation with Ms Wooden inside the bar with the pair grappling with each other on the floor.

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Kelly told jurors he and his friend had been trying to restrain Ms Wooden and he then he just wanted to leave.

Sheldon Flanighan.Sheldon Flanighan.
Sheldon Flanighan.

He said: "I just wanted to be away from the situation."

Kelly said he was not angry but made the decision to get into his van, which was parked at the pub, then pulled up outside the main entrance to collect Ms Wooden and Mr Fairclough to take them home.

He said Ms wooden got into the vehicle but was still "booting off", Mr Fairclough was in and out and "there was a lot going on in the van".

Kelly told jurors people from the pub came outside and approached the van and added: "Because they didn't see the full commotion they probably assumed Shannon might be assaulted or whatever. They probably did have good intentions to try and stop that."

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Kelly added: "I drove towards people with the intention of warding them off, scaring them off if you like, because they kept approaching me as though theywere going to drag me from the van or attack me. It was what I believed at the time, that is the feeling I got.

"In hindsight, they were probably just trying to do a good thing and stop me from drink driving. I didn't know what kind of people they were at the time."

Kelly told jurors he had not realised anyone had been hit when he drove away and told the court: "I didn't want anyone hurt and I didn't intend to hurt them."

He added he "definitely" did not want anyone to be killed.

Kelly told the court: "At the time I drove towards people it was to scare them off, make them not come towards my van."

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He added: "I was quite drunk, enough to not be driving, I shouldn't have been driving.

"My intentions were to just get out of there and get home."

Mr Flanighan suffered a catalogue of serious injuries including a severely fractured leg, over 30 broken ribs, and extensive fractures to the base of his skull.

Mr Common had head and elbow injuries, a laceration to his spleen and fractured ribs.

The trial continues.