An 81-year-old man has been jailed for nine months after acting as a getaway driver for drug dealers in a bid to tackle his feelings of isolation.
Former burger van worker Ian Hemmens, from Chichester, West Sussex, was sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court after being found guilty of helping alleged offender Mahamud Sami flee the country for Bahrain. Sami has not yet been caught.
Hemmens was reportedly used as a getaway driver because his age and unassuming appearance made him inconspicuous. Portsmouth Crown Court heard Hemmens chose to act as a getaway driver because he was lonely and it gave him the chance to interact with people.
According to The Guardian, Judge Roger Hetherington told Hemmens he would serve a nine-month sentence after being found guilty of assisting Sami.
Judge Hetherington made the following remarks to Hemmens:
You assisted an offender by driving him away from the scene when you knew he must have been involved in a serious assault, you saw blood on him and you undoubtedly knew that he had been involved in drug dealing.
But your involvement was considerably more than this one journey, you made several journeys on that day and on the night before, you would have been aware that you were being used as a driver whose age and appearance would have been unlikely to draw attention.
Hemmens reportedly showed ‘no emotion’ as the sentence was handed down. His co-defendant Akeem Adebayo, 23, of Colindale, north London, has been sentenced to nine years. Adebayo’s charges include wounding with intent as well as possessing cocaine and heroin with intent to supply.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Hemmens had been a driver in his green Citroën C3 for Adebayo and Sami, driving them from Chichester to Bognor Regis on March 10.
Prosecutor Amy Packham told the court how an altercation had broken out with a rival drug dealer that led to Adebayo and Sami chasing, catching and stabbing them.
Adebayo reportedly held the rival drug dealer to the ground while Sami allegedly proceeded to stab him five or six times. At this point, Hemmens arrived at the scene and picked Sami up in the getaway vehicle.
Defendant Mark Kessler noted his client’s isolation had led to him getting mixed up with the crime, stating:
It’s unusual to find a man of Mr Hemmens’ background in court at his age for a matter of this nature.
[…] The defendant admits that he likes talking to people and that is why it has come about.
Packham has said there is an all ports warning – a bulletin circulated to international ports so a fleeing suspect can be identified and apprehended – for Sami, whose last-known whereabouts were on a plane to Bahrain.
If you are affected by any of the issues highlighted by this story, you can contact Samaritans for free on 116 123.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.