Van driver jailed for life for footballer's murder

A man who murdered a footballer by driving a van into a group of people on a Christmas night out has been jailed for life.

Zac Newman killed Sam Wilson, 26, and injured two others while at the wheel of his van in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, last year.

Mr Wilson, who was out for his football team's annual Christmas celebration in Market Place, suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

Newman, 27, was found guilty of murder earlier this week and ordered to serve a minimum of 24 years in prison when he was sentenced at Derby Crown Court on Friday.


Judge Shaun Smith KC said: "Not only did you deliberately drive at a group of innocent people, you intended to cause them serious harm.

"What you decided to do is there for all to see on the CCTV footage.

"For the family and friends of Sam Wilson, the unfathomable tragedy is these people had absolutely nothing to do with you that evening."

The judge said Newman was looking for trouble and under the influence of cocaine and alcohol when he "weaponised" his work van in the early hours of 16 December.

He said: "The effect of your actions on those who love Samuel has been catastrophic.

"You accept no real responsibility for what you did."

In a victim impact statement, Mr Wilson's parents said their son "was taken in a senseless act of cruelty".

They said: "He was enjoying an innocent night out with his friends - something he should be able to do without fear or terror.

"Our funny, witty and intelligent son was murdered.

"We will never understand how one individual can carry such evil."

Newman, from The Crescent in Stapleford, was also found guilty of wounding with intent and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to two other men - Sean Cardwell and Daniel Rowley, Mr Wilson's friends who were injured by the van.

Newman was sentenced to four years for wounding with intent, and two years for attempted grievous bodily harm with intent. Both sentences will run concurrently with the sentence for murder.

Det Ch Insp Matt Croome, from Derbyshire Police, said Mr Wilson was "an innocent bystander whose life was senselessly taken by Newman’s reckless and irresponsible actions".

He said Newman had been "violent and confrontational" towards others and that his behaviour had "severe and devastating consequences".

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