A grandmother and “pillar of the community” was killed when a 12-year-old boy she was fostering stole her car and ran over her outside her home, a court has heard.
Marcia Grant, 60, suffered catastrophic injuries as she and her husband tried to stop the boy taking their vehicle from the house in the Greenhill area of Sheffield.
A court heard the boy had never driven before and struggled to control the car when he reversed into Mrs Grant, knocking her down and reversing over her.
Prosecutors said there was no evidence he had intended to harm Mrs Grant and that his intention was just to drive away.
The boy, now 13, who cannot be named due to his age, was sentenced to two years in custody at Sheffield Crown Court on Wednesday.
He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at a previous hearing. A charge of murder was dropped by prosecutors when they accepted the plea.
The boy also pleaded guilty to possession of a knife taken from Mrs Grant’s kitchen, which was found on him when he was arrested about an hour after the incident on April 5.
The court heard Mrs Grant had been a foster carer since 2016 and the defendant had been staying with her for several days at the time of her death.
Prosecutor Mark McKone KC said the boy “claimed to have been a gangster since aged nine” and had a number of disagreements with Mrs Grant’s husband Delroy, including one about him watching “inappropriate television”.
The court heard that on the night of Mrs Grant’s death the boy took car keys and a knife from the kitchen, crept out to the car and tried to drive it away.
Mr Grant told police his wife shouted “Someone’s taking the car”, but believed she did not initially realise it was the defendant.
Mrs Grant ran out to try to stop the thief and went to the back of the car before the defendant reversed the vehicle, knocking her over.
The court heard that when Mr Grant went to the back of the car he saw his wife on her back with her feet under the vehicle and “pleaded” with the boy to stop driving.
He smashed the car window and the boy got out and fled the scene, saying “Sorry, sorry,” Mr McKone said.
When he was arrested after trying to run away from police, he told a policewoman: “I’m going to f****** kill your family, you bitch, and I don’t give a f***.”
The boy asked officers “Is she dead?” before saying “It was an accident, I swear”, five minutes later.
A previous court hearing was told that the boy also said: “Looks like I got my first kill?”
In a prepared statement to police, the defendant said he was taking the car so he could drive to see his mother.
He said: “I had a good relationship with Marcia and Delroy; however, I always missed being with my family and wished to be with them.
“When I returned to Marcia’s home having left I decided I needed to be with my mother.
“I was worried if I travelled alone I could be attacked so I took a knife from the kitchen for my own protection.
“I remember starting the engine, putting the gear into reverse. I have never driven a car before and so struggled to do so.
“I remember seeing Marcia rush out then Delroy after. Delroy was on my right side shouting and hitting the car window.
“I was in a state of panic, I didn’t know Marcia was behind the car. I never intended to hit her or cause her any harm. I’m very sorry for what has happened.”
Mrs Grant’s daughter, Gemma Grant, said her mother “wanted to pull the world into a hug, lend a hand and raise the spirits of anyone facing adversity”.
Reading her victim impact statement to the court, Ms Grant said: “It floors me that the boy that killed her was greeted by a massive hug, given lots of assurance and her trademark warmth.
“We will never forgive him and will carry this trauma with us always.”
Mrs Grant’s son, Shaun Grant, said she was “killed by someone whom she had taken into her home not once, but twice”.
He told the court: “I have had my best friend ripped away from me with no chance to say goodbye, qith no chance to tell her how amazing she was as a mum, wife and foster carer.”
The defendant stared forward or looked down as the statements were being read and showed no visible emotion. He sat quietly in a glass-fronted dock throughout the hearing, wearing a black suit with a white shirt and black tie.
Richard Wright KC, mitigating, said the boy had had “an extremely challenging childhood” and was “thriving” in youth detention.
The judge, Mrs Justice May, told the boy: “You made a bad choice. You knew that taking her car was wrong. You knew that taking her kitchen knife was wrong.”
She said: “The offence you committed was serious but it was not murder,” adding that it was a “very bad accident”.
The defendant has also been banned from driving for six years and is required to take an extended driving test at the end of the disqualification.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Andrea Bowell, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Since Marcia’s death our thoughts have been with her family and friends after she was taken from them in the most difficult of circumstances.
“Marcia was a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and a pillar of her community. Her death has had a profound effect on everyone who loved her.”