Notorious criminal spared jail over police road pursuit
8th August 2023

Car-jacker who mowed down and killed security guard when he was 18 is spared jail over police road pursuit after judge accepted claims that he was speeding in ‘panic’ to see his dying mother

  •  Howell was originally jailed for nine years in 2002 for robbery and manslaughter
  •  He returned to a life of crime upon his release in 2012

A car-jacker who mowed down and killed a security guard when he was just 18 has been spared jail following a police pursuit after blaming ‘panic’ over his dying mother.

Christopher Howell became notorious in 2002 when he ambushed 64-year-old Sikiru Egberongbe while armed with a brick, leaving the grandfather fatally injured.

After being released from a nine-year sentence for robbery and manslaughter, Howell – who committed his first offence aged 12 – returned to crime.

He targeted a string of commuters as they returned to their cars after work, and was jailed again.

The convicted killer – now aged 39 – was arrested last summer after he ploughed a van into a wall as a patrol car was tailing him driving down inner-city streets at 50mph, a court heard.

Howell leaving Minshull Street Crown Court

Image of Howell when jailed for manslaughter in 2002, and still of his attack on Mr Egberongbe

Howell, who had no driving licence and a history of offences including assault, arson, robbery and aggravated vehicle taking, faced up to five years in jail after he admitted dangerous driving.

But he walked free from court after a judge heard that at the time of the crash he had just been told his mother was ‘about to take her last breath’ and was racing to get to see her before she died.

Recorder Kate Cornell accepted his offending arose out a ‘genuine emergency’.

She said it was ‘a great irony’ that in the event he did not see her before she died because he had to be rushed to hospital.

Howell – who insisted he did not realise police were following him – was seen grinning after being handed a 12-month community order and banned from driving.

The grandfather died five days later hospital after being attacked by Howell

Back in 2002, there was outrage at shocking CCTV footage which captured a teenage Howell threatening Mr Egberongbe with a brick as he arrived for his night shift at a Manchester business park.

Nigeria-born Mr Egberongbe had left his Toyota’s engine running so that he could open the gates.

But as he returned, Howell emerged from the shadows and threatened him with a brick.

As Mr Egberongbe tried to grab the youth, Howell sped off, leaving him in the road with catastrophic injuries.

The doting grandfather died five days later in hospital.

Howell was given a nine-year sentence by a judge who branded him an ‘experienced, determined and persistent criminal’.

Howell in 2012 when he was jailed for carjacking robberies

But in 2012 he was locked up for another nine years for robbery and having a bladed article after he targeted motorists in a series of savage carjackings.

In one raid a driver returning to his Audi was punched repeatedly in the head and threatened with being ‘knifed’ as he was robbed of his vehicle, phone, bags and watch.

The latest offence took place on August 11 last year after police saw Howell driving towards them in Manchester.

Officers began following the Vauxhall Corsa, but when they were 130 metres behind he lost control, hit a wall and the car flipped over, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester was told.

Howell was trapped and had to be removed by the fire service before being taken to hospital where he was later arrested.

In mitigation, defence counsel Adam Roxborough, said that just before getting into the car, Howell had been told that ‘his mother was about to take her last breath’.

‘In a panic, he took his cousin’s car and sped off towards his mother’s address,’ he said.

‘It was a tragedy for him that he did not get to see his mother before her passing.’

Mr Roxborough said there was no suggestion Howell knew police were following him.

Sentencing him, Miss Recorder Cornell told Howell it was fortunate no-one was hurt, but said the offence was ‘of a wholly different character’ to his previous crimes.

‘The dangerous period of driving was momentary and motivated purely by your desire to see your dying mother,’ she said.

‘It was a genuine emergency, and it was a great irony that your dangerous driving meant you did not see your mother before she died.’

Howell, from Manchester, was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for 12 months after he admitted driving without a licence or insurance.

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