Drug-driver who killed schoolgirl gets 12 years

A DRIVER who killed an 11-year-old girl in a hit-and-run crash while under the influence of drugs has been jailed for 12 years and three months.

Christopher Hannah was jailed for 12 years and three months at Livingston High Court. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Christopher Hannah was jailed for 12 years and three months at Livingston High Court. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Christopher Hannah, 33, was also banned from driving for life when he was sentenced at the High Court in Livingston yesterday.

Hannah, who was high on drugs, ploughed into Sophie Brannan, her friend and uncle as they walked along the pavement in Maryhill, Glasgow.

His car mounted the pavement on 14 November last year and Sophie died the following day from her injuries.

Father-of-three Hannah pleaded guilty to culpable homicide at the High Court in March.

Detective Inspector Colin Hailstones said: “This was an appallingly tragic case. Many people in the community in Maryhill were deeply affected by this incident, particularly as it resulted in the death of young Sophie Brannan, whose life was sadly taken away from her at the age of 11 and at the hands of someone under the influence of drugs.”

Judge Lord Bannatyne told Hannah it was tragic that he had taken a young life and that Sophie’s family would never get over her death.

Family and friends of Sophie attended court to hear Hannah’s fate – many wearing pink T-shirts bearing the words “Soph” and “Justice”.

Hannah’s hired Vauxhall Astra mounted the pavement and struck Sophie, her friend Chelsea Sommerville, 10, and Chelsea’s uncle, Joseph Lloyd. They were badly injured.

Witnesses claimed Hannah, said to be a heroin addict, was “under the influence of some substance” at the time of the accident.

Hannah lost control of the car and fully mounted the pavement before smashing into the gable end of a nearby building, eventually ploughing into Sophie, Chelsea and Mr Lloyd from behind.

Hannah then fled the scene but later phoned a friend to say that he had been driving like a “madman” and had run someone over.

Sophie was taken by ambulance to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill where she was found to have swelling to her brain and several fractures. She remained in intensive care overnight and was pronounced dead on the morning of 15 November.

The court heard that Chelsea suffered a seriously broken leg which will require long-term physiotherapy.

Chelsea’s uncle also suffered a number of fractures, and is likely to suffer “long-term restriction” of movement in his right shoulder.

It emerged that the accused told police in a phone call: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it. It was a total accident.

“I lost control of the car and I panicked.”

As well as culpable homicide, Hannah also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, attempting to defeat the ends of justice and possessing heroin.

It emerged he already had 14 previous convictions for crimes including having an offensive weapon and road traffic charges, and was on bail at the time.