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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Robyn Vinter North of England correspondent

Boy, 13, who killed his foster carer with her own car sentenced to two years

Marcia Grant
Marcia Grant, a grandmother and social worker, died after being dragged by the vehicle and being caught under one of the wheels. Photograph: family handout

A 13-year-old boy has been sentenced to two years in custody for killing his foster carer with her car outside her Sheffield home earlier this year.

The boy, who was 12 at the time of the killing, pleaded guilty to causing the death by dangerous driving of 60-year-old Marcia Grant and to possessing a bladed article.

He appeared in court for his sentencing wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie. He sat quietly when the details of his crime were read to the court.

Grant, a grandmother and social worker, who lived with her husband, Delroy, in Greenhill, on the edge of the Peak District, was standing behind the car attempting to stop it being driven away by the boy on 5 April, the judge at Sheffield crown court heard.

The boy, who was being fostered by the couple, reversed the car out of the drive, knocking her down. The court heard that it was likely he would have known she was there and would have been able to see her in the rearview mirror and on the parking camera if he had looked.

It was then that Delroy Grant came out of the house and pleaded with the boy not to touch anything in the car. Grant later told police he remembered saying his wife was behind the car but the boy gave him “a look” and further reversed the car, driving over Grant and killing her.

The judge, Mrs Justice May, was told Marcia Grant died after being dragged by the vehicle and getting caught under one of the wheels. A pathologist’s report found she died from chest injuries and crush asphyxia, and she had fractures to her ribs, lacerations to a lung, a fracture to her spine, and internal bleeding. She also had scorched skin, believed to be from a hot exhaust, and extensive bruising to her head.

The boy fled the car and was caught by police shortly afterwards. When he was arrested on suspicion of murder, he said: “Is she dead?” He then said “it was an accident, I swear”, the court heard.

During his arrest, he turned to a female police officer and said: “I’m going to fucking kill your family, you bitch. I will kill your families and I don’t give a fuck.”

In a prepared statement when he was interviewed by police, he said he had been in a “state of panic” when he killed Grant and that he “never intended to hit her or cause her any harm”.

His statement said: “I’m very sorry for what has happened. I hope it is accepted that this was a tragic accident.”

Delroy Grant felt unable to attend court for the hearing but Marcia Grant’s son and daughter were present. In a victim impact statement, Shaun Grant said he was told about his mother’s death over the phone after he got a call from his sister. He said he did not know the details of her death until later.

“What I came to find out is that she was killed by someone wearing a balaclava and concealing a knife. Someone with the intent to cause harm,” he said.

His sister, Gemma Grant, said she still woke up crying for her mother as if she were “a child and not a 40-year-old woman”. She said: “I get frequent flashbacks to the sight of my mum pinned under the car, of the fire service dragging her body from under the car, of seeing her misshapen, unfamiliar and badly damaged body lying in the coroner’s office as I am asked to identify her.”

In her sentencing remarks, May told the child she had “thought very hard” about the sentence, considering “the seriousness” of his actions and the harm caused. She said: “You made a very bad choice. You knew that taking her car was wrong. You knew that taking a kitchen knife was wrong.”

However, the judge said it was clear he had not meant to kill Grant and she had taken into account his challenging childhood and guilty plea.

She said it was very difficult to apply the sentencing guidelines meant for adults to a “totally inexperienced 12-year-old child”.

The boy will also spend a year on licence and is banned from driving for six years.

After the hearing, the family issued a statement through South Yorkshire police, in which they said they felt “completely let down by the Crown Prosecution Service”.

They said: “We strongly believe that the evidence on hand shows a complete disregard for human life and clear premeditation to do serious harm.

“Our mum looked after many vulnerable and troubled children during her time as a foster carer and as a civilian. We have seen these young lives be touched by her love, kindness, and generosity.

“Still, this whole ordeal leaves us with so many unanswered questions and we are completely heartbroken that our mother will not get the justice she deserves.”

The family said they would “keep searching for answers”.

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