Kettering woman's tragic death came after road rage row became violent
Her boyfriend was jailed by a judge today for his role in the violence
A woman whose death sparked a Kettering murder probe was fatally injured in self-defence by a man who had been brutally assaulted by her boyfriend.
Hayley Adams, also known as Hayley Pienaar, was on her way to a pharmacy with her partner Wayne Steele when a driver provoked them because they were walking in the road when he tried to pass them in Gordon Street.
After an altercation the man, aged, 33, then attempted to escape. Steele tried to incapacitate him with a stun gun and punched him repeatedly with a knuckleduster, only for Hayley to chase him and continue the attack.
But today (Thursday) Northampton Crown Court heard the man lashed out in self-defence and hit Hayley, who fell and died from a brain injury. He was initially arrested on suspicion of murder before he was released with no further action.
Steele, of Mill Road, was later convicted of wounding with intent and weapons offences by a jury and was today jailed for a total of six-and-a-half years for his role in the incident.
His Honour Judge David Herbert QC told him: "The sad fact is that you will have to live with that for the rest of your life, the consequences of what happened."
The court heard police were called to Russell Street at about 6.20pm on June 15 after reports of "nasty street violence" which started as a road rage style incident.
The assault victim had initially shouted at Steele and Hayley, 37, to confront them and ran towards them after parking his car nearby.
By the time he spoke to them in Russell Street the couple became aggressive towards him with Steele pulling out a stun gun, which was capable of firing up to 9,000 volts.
The thug used it to try and incapacitate him, with the driver punching Steele in self-defence after it was fired at him.
Judge Herbert QC told Steele: "When he ran off to escape you both (Steele and Hayley) pursued him intending more violence.
"In your case you intended to cause him a really serious injury because you armed yourself with a knuckleduster."
Steele, 43, then punched the man repeatedly, causing wounds to his head and face.
But the violence did not stop there.
The court heard Hayley continued to pursue him as he tried to escape again, attacking him with her mobile phone.
Judge Herbert QC ruled: "He lashed out and punched her once, knocking her to the ground. The consequences were tragic because she hit her head and died from a brain injury.
"The punch that caused it was struck in self-defence."
Steele, who has convictions for four previous offences, blamed the man he had attacked when he spoke to the police and blamed him for the presence of the stun gun. He also blamed Hayley for the unlawful violence towards the man, the court heard.
Mitigating, Francis McGrath said Steele was a man of good character up until his late 30s, and worked hard after leaving school with few qualifications.
The court heard set up his own construction company and worked for a number of years before giving it up because of a combination of trading conditions and a back injury, later retraining as a chef.
He said: "There seems to have been a point in his late 30s...when things changed and his mental health deteriorated."
Having effectively been homeless he found a home with Hayley, who was originally from South Africa, and looked after her.
Mr McGrath said Steele's actions came after the assault victim's provokation, which could have caused alarm to his vulnerable partner.
He said: "It does have a whiff of trying to defend somebody...it does have a whiff of excessive self-defence."
He added that Steele, who faced up to nine years in prison, had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident and had shown "profound" remorse for what had happened.
Judge Herbert QC ruled that his violence in the incident was so serious it could only be punished by a prison sentence "of some length".
Steele was told he would serve up to half of his six-and-a-half year sentence in custody, minus the time spent on remand, before he would be released on licence.
In a tribute released after Hayley's death, her family said: “We, as a family, are devastated by the loss of our beautiful Hayley who was loved beyond measure by us all and will be greatly missed.
“Hayley will remain in our hearts forever, until we meet again.”