‘Cheap, cynical and disdainful’ driver jailed for running over woman

A white van driver was described as “cheap, cynical and disdainful” as he was jailed for four and a half years for running over and killing a woman.

James Martin, 27, drove away with Stella Frew hanging on to the side of his van in Sutton, south London in July last year.

As he zigzagged through parked cars, the 38-year-old victim hit an Audi and fell under the van wheels, the Old Bailey was told.

Martin fled the scene as members of the public rushed over to help Ms Frew, who had suffered “extensive” injuries and died at the scene.

The court had been told the incident appeared to have been sparked by the defendant’s refusal to pay her for sex.

Martin had also driven off with the victim’s handbag in his van, which he later threw into the road.

Stella Frew
Stella Frew (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Ms Frew, who had four children and four grandchildren, had problems with drugs and drink and was said to have been “out of her head” when she approached Martin.

Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay said: “She was obviously very desperate to obtain money and she would not have been willing to leave with out it – and still less without her handbag.”

Martin had initially denied wrongdoing but had pleaded guilty to causing Ms Frew’s death by dangerous driving on what would have been the first day of his trial.

Judge Richard Marks QC rejected Martin’s case that Ms Frew was not hanging onto the van as he drove off.

The judge also noted that Martin’s expressions of remorse were “largely centred on the effect on himself and his family” and he had shown “little empathy” for his victim.

Judge Marks told Martin: “She did not deserve to die in the circumstances that she did.

“It is clear from the evidence that she got dragged along the road, coming into contact with a parked vehicle.

“Your van drove over her body causing her fatal injuries.

“She had a tyre mark vertically up her back from her pelvis to her neck.

“Your behaviour in the course of this incident and in particular at and towards the end of the incident was cheap, cynical and disdainful.”

The defendant appeared by video link from HMP Belmarsh (Steve Parsons/PA)
The defendant appeared by video link from HMP Belmarsh (Steve Parsons/PA)

He said Martin was only thinking of himself when he drove off, despite the risk to Ms Frew.

The judge went on: “Having driven away not having paid her a penny piece… you demonstrated the contempt for which you held her by throwing her handbag from the window.”

Given the lateness of Martin’s guilty plea, Judge Marks gave him only a 10% discount on his sentence, handing him four and a half years in prison.

Martin was disqualified from driving for four years upon his release from jail.

The judge commended the dignity shown by Ms Frew’s family who wiped away tears in court as Martin was sentenced by video link from Belmarsh prison.

Earlier, Ms Frew’s two grown-up daughters had described their mother’s troubled life in which they said she had suffered abuse at the hands of men.

Frankie Cottrell said: “Stella was a vulnerable young woman exploited by many due to her kindness, especially by men.

“It pains us that Stella’s life has been ended by the actions of a male too.”

She went on: “She was somebody, she had a family who love her dearly.

“Mr Martin may have thought my mum was worthless but to us she was everything.”

Georgie Cottrell described her mother as “the kindest, most warm-hearted woman”.

She said: “In her life she had always been abused and hurt by men and that is why this pains us all so much – that she had died due to one too.”