LOCAL — 18 July 2014

harrow crown court

A nurse has been sentenced at Harrow Crown Court today for causing the death of a 33-year-old mother by careless driving.

Ophelia Okai-Koi, 52, was sentenced to 12 months in prison and disqualified for driving for two years after being found guilty of causing the death of Christie McHugh.

The tragedy occurred last March outside the Lord Kitchener pub when an argument between the two broke out and Okai-Koi drove off with Mrs McHugh on the bonnet of her car, who was then flung off causing fatal head injuries.

The court had heard that on the evening of March 4 2013, Mrs McHugh had been at the pub along East Barnet Road with her husband and two children before they went to their vehicle in the pub’s car park.

The couple struggled to put their baby’s car seat into their vehicle as their rear doors were blocked by Okai-Koi’s car.

The defendant returned to her vehicle from a nearby supermarket and an argument between the three ensued.

Okai-Koi got into her car and moved it forward but it still blocked the McHugh’s car. Mrs McHugh and her husband approached the vehicle and when Okai-Koi dialled 999 the operator could hear people banging and swearing in the background.

Witnesses reported seeing Mrs McHugh lifting herself onto the bonnet of the car with her head and hands on the windscreen.

Okai-Koi was advised to wait for police to arrive at the scene but took the decision to leave before the police arrived.

While Mrs McHugh was still on the bonnet, Okai-Koi drove out of the car park, between 10 and 15 miles per hour.

Mrs McHugh was thrown from the bonnet of the car before hitting her head on a Belisha beacon on a zebra crossing.

Ms Okai-Koi then drove away from the scene before the police arrived.

An off-duty special police constable gave first aid to Mrs McHugh, as did paramedics who arrived soon after, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem later gave the cause of death as a severe head injury.

Okai-Koi was arrested by officers at her home address later that evening.

Detective Constable Sam Vennart, Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “It is utterly tragic that a row about parking led to the loss of a woman’s life.

“The family of Christie McHugh have been shattered by this incident and I can only hope that today’s verdict allows all parties to begin moving on.”

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