5:03 PM September 21, 2022
An amateur footballer has been jailed for 12 years for deliberately mowing down two men in his car, leaving one with horrific injuries.
William Tooey, 28, ran over the victims after they fell off a bicycle as they attempted to flee near City, University of London, in Clerkenwell, on April 8.
Tooey, who worked as a window cleaner, had admitted causing grievous bodily harm to Danny O’Reilly and attempting to cause grievous harm to Braden Knowles, both aged in their 20s.
As he appeared at the Old Bailey to be sentenced on Wednesday, prosecutor Hugh Forgan said: “No explanation has been given by the defence why this occurred.
“It is plainly apparent what is taking place has echoes of organised crime.”
At about 12.30pm on April 8, the two victims were on a bicycle, with one wearing a balaclava.
CCTV footage showed Tooey’s grey Vauxhall Astra perform a three-point turn and pursue the men into Rawstone Street.
The prosecutor said: “The men were cycling together. At one point they seem to look back to see where the car was. They lose balance on the bike and fall on to the road. Tooey drove at them at speed.”
Mr Knowles took evasive action but Mr O’Reilly “took the full force” of the impact, the court heard.
Tooey then reversed over the men, prompting a worker in the street to gesture at him as if to say “are you stupid”, the court heard.
Before making off at speed, Tooey told the bystander: “Don’t try to remember my face or the registration number of my car.”
Mr Knowles suffered a fractured knee while Mr O’Reilly sustained severe crush injuries.
They included broken ribs and collarbone, bruising to the lung, crush injuries to the heart, wounds to the spleen and liver and fractured spinal bones.
Tooey, from Islington, went on the run for three weeks before handing himself in but the car was never recovered.
He denied charges of attempted murder but admitted the lesser offences, which were accepted by the Crown at a previous hearing.
The court heard Tooey had earlier lost an application to dismiss the charges against him having initially disputed that he was the driver.
His lawyer Ishan Dave described the incident as “one moment of madness” in an otherwise blameless 11 years free of offending.
In that time, Tooey had become a father and was in a relationship.
He was a “valuable family member and member of society”, particularly as carer for his mother, Mr Dave said.
There was no evidence Tooey was in a gang and Mr Dave highlighted references from football coaches on the defendant’s positive role as both player and assistant coach.
Mr Dave said Tooey accepted driving at the men intending to cause them grievous bodily harm.
But the fact they fell off the bicycle “accelerated” events and Tooey “lost the chance to take that final step back before the final impact”, he argued.
Judge Alexia Durran sentenced Tooey to 12 years in prison with a further five years on extended licence.
She told him: “This was a deliberate and targeted use of your vehicle to cause serious harm to those two men.
“You used a dangerous weapon, a motor vehicle. Your use of a car must have been in revenge for something.
“It is a reasonable and common sense inference that there must have been an underlying criminality to the events of that day and that is why no explanation has been put forward for the extreme violence.
“You have the capacity to cause real and serious harm to others who in some way upset or anger you.”
The court heard Tooey had youth convictions for possession of cannabis, theft, assaulting a police officer and aggravated vehicle taking but was otherwise of good character.
He waved to friends and family in the public gallery before being sent down from the dock.
Judge Durran disqualified him from driving for five years upon his release from prison