Mother 'laughed as she repeatedly reversed over bus driver' and killed him

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read
Stefan Melnyk died after being run over by Rhian Beresford. (Metropolitan Police)
Stefan Melnyk died after being run over by Rhian Beresford. (Metropolitan Police)

A mother laughed as she ran over and killed a man before attacking a have-a-go-hero with a knife, a court has heard.

Rhian Beresford had her young daughter in the car as she mowed down Stefan Melnyk, a part-time bus driver, in Acton, west London.

She then stabbed Thames Water worker George Pantazi after he chased her when she tried to flee the scene.

Beresford, who had paranoid schizophrenia when the killing happened, pleaded guilty to Melnyk's manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at a previous hearing, and admitted wounding with intent instead of attempted murder.

Judge Richard Marks QC gave her a hospital order without a time limit, while awarding hundreds of pounds to brave Pantazi.

On Friday, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told the Old Bailey that Beresford drove her Vauxhall Astra "at speed" on the pavement on 22 March.

The defendant, who had been self-isolating because her daughter displayed COVID symptoms, went directly at Melnyk, who was thrown to the ground.

"She then deliberately drove the car over his prone body, revving the engine and rolling the car forward to crush him," Atkinson said.

"She inflicted very significant injury to Mr Melnyk which proved fatal.”

Pantazi was among the Thames Water staff who ran to help Melnyk.

"We all screamed at the (driver) 'stop! stop! There’s someone under the car'," he said.

"She didn't stop, ignored us and then reversed over the man again, before accelerating and driving over him one more time."

He said Beresford "sat in the car laughing and smiling at us, trying to rev the car forward".

The workers tried to lift the car off as she continued to smile, the court heard.

Pantazi gave chase as a smirking Beresford left the car, saying: "I've got a knife."

He fell over and she turned on him with a kitchen knife and ran towards him.

He suffered a cut hand but his work clothes prevented worse injury.

The judge said Pantazi showed “considerable bravery” in “putting his own safety entirely to one side”.

Awarding him £750, the judge said: “It was entirely fortuitous as events turned out that he was not seriously injured.”

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The court was shown the attempt to rescue Melnyk on graphic CCTV.

He cared for his father and aunt and enjoyed reading and visiting museums.

He spent time as a trade union representative and was passionate about history.

His cousin Elizbieta Kaczmar said in a statement: "Every time I think about what happened to Stefan it makes me cry. He was such a great person.

"Always happy to help others."

Pantazi said in a statement that he kept thinking about what happened and had "feelings of anxiety and fear".

Miranda Moore QC, speaking for Beresford in mitigation, said the defendant was "deeply remorseful", and the court was told her psychosis was not thought to be drug induced, despite her having smoked cannabis.

The prosecution previously said Beresford's pleas were accepted after considering the pleas with the "greatest care" and in consultation with Melnyk's family and Pantazi.

Atkinson had said Beresford has a "longstanding diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia which provides a complete explanation for that behaviour".

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