A 26-year-old man who used his car as a “weapon” to kill a Northamptonshire grandfather in a car park has been given an eight-and-a-half year jail sentence.
Mohamed Hirsi was unanimously convicted of manslaughter by a jury after a two-week trial at Northampton Crown Court.
The court heard that Hirsi killed Lorenzo Gallucci, aged 60, known as Spud, after he deliberately drove his car at him in Splash swimming pool car park in Station Road, Rushden, in the early hours of September 21, 2014.
During the trial, the jury heard how Spud had arranged to have a drink with his brother in law and nephew at the club on the night of the incident.
Hirsi was also at the club attending the 18th birthday party of his girlfriend’s friend.
As the birthday party finished at about midnight, Hirsi left the club and became involved in an argument with Spud’s nephew outside the front of the premises.
Bystanders separated the two and Lorenzo’s nephew got into a Volkswagen Passat, while Hirsi returned to his car and removed a metal bar. Moments later, he stood at the back of the Passat and hit the rear window of the car, smashing it completely.
Hirsi then ran off into the Splash Pool Car Park and a short time later a group of people, including Spud, followed him into the car park.
Hirsi got into his car and the prosecution argued he then drove deliberately at Spud causing him to fall onto the bonnet of the car and then subsequently backwards onto the floor, which caused his fatal head injury.
Hirsi was convicted of criminal damage after a jury found he used a metal wheel brace to smash the window of a Volkswagen Passat. He was found not guilty of affray.
Andrew Copeland, prosecuting, read out a statement from Mr Gallucci’s daughter in which she stated the family was still struggling to come to terms with his death.
The statement read: “Words cannot explain how much we will miss that larger than life character who sat at the top of the table.
“You would never encounter a more generous man. His grandchildren were his greatest achievement.”
Mr Gallucci’s daughter said the family would finally be able to take a “few steps forward” after Hirsi was convicted and sentenced.
Neil Corre, mitigating, said his client had escaped the civil war in Somalia aged 12 after witnessing a number of brutal incidents including the murder of his uncle.
Mr Corre said Hirsi, of Camden, London, had two young children and was a carer for his mother.
Judge Rupert Mayo, sentencing, said Hirsi had smashed the window of the car as a “petty, petulant, act of revenge” after he had become involved in a “stand-off” with another man as he was leaving the club.
Judge Mayo said: “There was sufficient light in the car park for you to be able to see people, including Mr Gallucci.
“Barely in control of your car, you moved forwards and you issued no warning by way of sounding your horn.
“You knew there were people in front of your car and you made a deliberate decision to drive forward with force, using your car as a weapon.”
Judge Mayo said Hirsi is likely to serve four-and-a-half years in jail before being released on licence. He has been banned from driving for six years. The driving ban will start after he is released from prison.
Detective Inspector Mark Brayfield, who led the investigation, said: “This was a tragic event where a man lost his life in the most unfortunate of circumstances.
“There was no need for what happened and a family have lost their loved one as a result of an incident that could so easily have been prevented.
“I would like to thank the investigation team for all their hard work and commitment on this case. This was a lengthy and complicated enquiry. The team worked tirelessly to seek justice for Lorenzo and his family. Hirsi’s conviction and the appreciation from the family is proof of their hard work.”