An 81-year-old man accused of being the getaway driver for a ‘county lines drug dealer’ has been found guilty of assisting an offender.
Ian Hemmens, of Bognor Road, Chichester, stood trial accused of driving Mahamud Sami away from the scene of a stabbing on Bognor Regis seafront on March 10, causing him to evade arrest and prosecution.
He was found guilty on Monday at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Mr Sami, a student based in Chichester, had evaded arrest, but his accomplice, Akeem Adebayo, 23, of Colindale Avenue, Colindale, London, was arrested and charged. He was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause GBH, and two charges of possessing cocaine and heroin with intent to supply.
Amy Packham, prosecuting, had told the trial that Hemmens had been waiting in his green Citroen C3 car, when Mr Sami jumped into the back seat and then hid in the footwell while the octogenarian drove him away.
Hemmens, a retired burger van worker who lives in a mobile home with his dog, told the court he had decided to drive to Bognor on the afternoon of March 10 out of ‘boredom’ and to ‘go for a walk by the seafront’.
He said that he saw two men, who the court heard were Adebayo and Mr Sami, at the side of the road, and decided to offer them a lift.
He said: “They were just stood there looking maybe for someone to pick them up, I thought I will pick them up and maybe I will have someone to chat to for ten minutes.”
Hemmens, who had no previous convictions, denied that he had picked up Adebayo and Mr Sami from their address in Chichester, and also denied taking any money for driving them, and said that he did not have an arrangement to act as a driver for Mr Sami. He said that after he had parked in Bognor, an unknown man jumped in his car, and added: “I couldn’t see who it was, they were in the well of the car and said ‘get me to Chichester’.
“In case anything happened to me, I do as I am told.”
Hemmens said he had seen blood on the hand of the man and added that he felt scared.
The prosecution said Adebayo and Mr Sami had chased after a Lithuanian man, Dimitrijs Semelis, who lived in Bognor, in a ‘dispute over the supply of drugs’, before Mr Sami stabbed him five or six times while Adebayo held him down.
Adebayo, who had studied human resources management at GSM college in London, and had gone on to work in retail, told the court that he accepted that Mr Sami was a ‘county lines drug dealer’ but denied knowing this at the time, or being involved himself in drug-dealing.
He denied being involved in the altercation with Mr Semelis and said: “I wasn’t covered in blood, I wasn’t holding someone down, I didn’t see a knife, I didn’t see any visible injuries on him, I didn’t see any blood.”
He said it was a ‘shock’ when drugs were found on him when he was arrested.
The case is listed for sentence on October 18.