Van driver admits running over and killing woman after refusing to pay for sex

Stella Frew

A white van driver has admitted running over and killing a woman after refusing to pay her GBP50 for oral sex.

James Martin, 27, drove away with Stella Frew hanging on to the side of his van, the Old Bailey heard.

As he zigzagged through parked cars, the 38-year-old victim hit an Audi and fell under the van wheels, the Old Bailey was told.

Afterwards, Martin stopped to buy a drink before returning home.

On Tuesday he pleaded guilty to causing Ms Frew’s death by dangerous driving on what would have been the first day of his Old Bailey trial.

Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay played CCTV of Martin driving his flatbed truck loaded with scrap around Sutton, south London, at about teatime on July 24 last year.

Ms Frew approached him, telling a friend she was “going to get GBP30”, after Martin “wolf-whistled” at her.

The friend thought she was “going to go off with the white van man for some sex or to blag some money from him somehow”, Mr Polnay said.

In CCTV footage played in court, Ms Frew could be seen getting into the truck, which was driven off through the suburban streets.

A witness described seeing the truck parked up, with the driver’s door open and a woman leaning over giving oral sex.

Police found a used condom nearby with the defendant’s DNA on it and cigarette paper with Ms Frew’s DNA on it.

Later, a pedestrian in Tonfield Road saw a woman banging on the side of the truck, which sped away, leaving her lying face down in the road.

A passing motorist saw her leaning through the truck window, holding it with both hands.

The van pulled away with engine revving as Ms Frew hung on, according to the witness.

He heard a thud and saw her lying on the road, the court heard.

His passenger saw Ms Frew being dragged along as the truck “zigzagged” between parked cars.

A trace of Ms Frew’s blood was found on an Audi parked near to where the victim landed in the road.

Members of the public rushed over to Ms Frew and performed CPR before medics took over.

She was later pronounced dead, having suffered “extensive” injuries

Mr Polnay said: “Ms Frew seemed to have a tyre mark vertically up her back, from her pelvis to her neck. She had been run over.”

He told the court the incident appeared to have been sparked by the defendant’s refusal to pay her money.

He said: “Her pockets were checked. She was not in possession of any cash.

“There was just a bank card in her pockets.

Her handbag, that she could be seen with earlier, was not found at the scene.

“The prosecution suggests the only reasonable conclusion is that it was in the defendant’s truck and he drove away with it before disposing of it at some point.

“It is submitted that he had not paid her.

She was obviously very desperate to obtain money and she would not have been willing to leave with out it – and still less without her handbag.”

Police arrested the defendant at the home of his partner.

In a prepared statement he gave a false alibi and claimed it was a “case of mistaken identity”.

He claimed he had been on a disposal job in Earlsfield, south London, and stopped at a shop before returning home.

After being shown CCTV evidence, he accepted he was the van driver and that he had been with Ms Frew, but said he had no intention to cause her death.

In a defence case statement, Martin said Ms Frew gave him oral sex and afterwards asked to be paid GBP50.

He thought it was “too much” and she became argumentative and banged on the van, shouting for him to let her in, according to Martin.

As he drove off, he said he was unaware that Ms Frew was hanging on in any way.

Martin, of Peeks Brook Lane, Crawley, West Sussex had denied manslaughter and the prosecution accepted his plea to the alternative charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Judge Richard Marks handed him an interim driving ban and adjourned sentencing until Thursday.