Man guilty of murdering Sheldon Flanighan by running him over outside Bay Horse, Cramlington

Sheldon Flanighan was killed outside the Bay Horse Pub in Cramlington on 1 April 2023. Credit: Northumbria Police

A man has been found guilty of murder after killing a man by running over him outside a pub in Northumberland.

Sheldon Flanighan, 55, was killed outside the Bay Horse Inn, Cramlington on 1 April 2023 after going out with friends for a meal and some drinks.

His friend Wayne Common, 56, was also seriously injured in the incident.

Toby Kelly, 38, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm part way through his almost five-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

A jury has now found him guilty of murder and attempted murder.

Toby Kelly, 38, has been found guilty of murder and attempted murder following a trial. Credit: Northumbria Police

Kelly, of Wansbeck Avenue, Blyth, drove over both men in the car park outside the pub after they tried to prevent him from attacking his girlfriend and then tried to stop him from driving while drunk.

Jurors had heard Kelly became angry after bar staff refused to serve his group more drinks.

He was fighting with his partner and when Mr Flanighan and Mr Common tried to intervene, he shouted he would "kill" them.

Kelly, who had drunk up to nine pints of lager, went out to the car park and drove his van around several times before hitting the men with the vehicle.

Mr Flanighan, who had two children, died at the scene while Mr Common was left with life-long injuries.

Prosecutors said Kelly had been angry because the men had tried to break up the brawl inside the pub.

Kelly had claimed he had only meant to "frighten" the men and had not intended to kill or seriously harm them.

He will be sentenced on Wednesday 15 November.

The incident unfolded in the car park outside the Bay Horse pub, in Cramlington. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Speaking after the trial the Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Johnson, of Northumbria Police, praised Sheldon’s family for their strength.

He said: “This has been the most incredibly difficult year for Wayne and Sheldon’s loved ones as they continue to grieve, and I am pleased that the jury returned the right verdict today. 

“Kelly’s actions were despicable and there was absolutely no need for Sheldon to lose his life, or for Wayne to sustain the serious injuries he did. This pointless violence has caused so much pain and I hope that today offers a sense of closure to the families, and to the wider community, who I know have been deeply affected by this.

“I have no idea what was going through Kelly’s mind when he made the decision to get in his van and use it as a weapon. Nothing good will ever come from a situation like that and as we’ve sadly seen in this case, there was nothing but tragic consequences for all involved.

“I hope the courts recognise the severity of Kelly’s offending because his violence, anger and disregard for life mean he is not suitable to live in our communities.

“I would once again like to thank Sheldon’s family and Wayne and his family, for their cooperation and support during this difficult investigation. I also extend my thanks to the wider team at Northumbria Police who have helped ensure Kelly is brought to justice for his actions.”

Mr Flanighan's sister Julia issued a statement on behalf of the family. She said: “Our family has been utterly shattered by the loss of Sheldon. Since the horror of his death, we have been stricken by acute grief, pain, and suffering beyond comprehension. We are heartbroken.

“The impact of Sheldon's death on our family is difficult to put into words. His sons have been deeply affected by the loss of their father. They miss him terribly and have been struggling to come to terms with his sudden absence. 

“My sister and I are utterly broken. We grew up with Sheldon, our younger brother, and expected to grow old with him too. The thought of losing a sibling is unimaginable to so many people, but as Sheldon’s sisters, his absence is a painstaking reality that we wake up to every day.

“Sheldon’s parents have been suffering severe ill health since his death. It is just as unimaginable for a parent to outlive their child. The grief and pain have been, and will forever continue to be, unbearable for them.

“The grief of losing Sheldon has further been compounded by the legal process that we have been made to endure. The trial has lasted five torturous weeks during which we have had to repeatedly relive the horror of Sheldon's death, over and over again. 

“Hearing every painful detail of his last moments has been excruciating for us to comprehend and deal with as a family. However, the defendant has never shown any remorse or acknowledgment of guilt. He has only ever acted to preserve himself, and his partial guilty plea halfway through the trial only caused us further anguish.

“The atrocity that was committed by this defendant is beyond any comprehension. The jury has now given their verdict finding him guilty of murder and attempted murder.

“In that regard, I would like to state that, even after a sentence in prison, he will eventually be released back into society. After serving his term, the defendant will return to his life. Sheldon will never return to his. Our family will never truly heal.

“I would like to thank Northumbria Police and the Crown Prosecution team for their diligence, thoroughness, and painstaking hard work in ensuring that Sheldon's killer did not evade justice. 

“We trust that Sheldon has found eternal rest. He will be remembered in our hearts forever, and we hope to be reunited with him when our times come to pass. We also dare to pray that no other family will be forced to endure our experience.”

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