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Nurse Ophelia Oka-Koi sentenced for causing death by careless driving in East Barnet
A mental health nurse who drove away from a row with a drunken woman on her car bonnet will serve six months in jail.
Ophelia Oka-Koi, of Galdana Avenue, High Barnet, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving following the death of Christie McHugh in East Barnet Road on March 4 last year.
The 52-year-old was sentenced to 12 months in jail but will serve half in custody before being released on licence. She has also been banned from driving for two years.
Mrs Oka-Koi had parked in the car park of the Lord Kitchener pub to go to the nearby Sainsbury’s, but when she returned Mrs McHugh’s husband, John told her she should not have parked there.
Mr and Mrs McHugh, who were both drunk after having been in the pub with their children, struggled to put their baby’s car seat in as their rear doors were blocked by Okai-Koi's Vauxhall Insignia.
Witnesses described a heated argument in which Mr and Mrs McHugh kicked and punched Ms Oka-Koi's car before Mrs McHugh got onto the bonnet and began bouncing on it.
She then drove off - but Mrs McHugh, who had been drinking, was flung from the car onto a belisha beacon and died instantly.
Harrow Crown Court heard today how Ms Oka-Koi has since been disqualified from her job as a mental health nurse pending an inquiry, and has been forced to rent out her house to pay the mortgage.
Judge Kaul said that due to the “unusual” circumstances of the case, she would pass the “shortest sentence possible”.
She said: “You were scared and frightened in what had become a hostile environment. You panicked. You took a terrible decision – you bolted.
“You didn’t stop but continued down the road and drove away, you didn’t realise she had been so seriously injured.
“I accept the hostile environment put you under immense pressure but if a person is lying on your bonnet you shouldn’t go forward at all."
The jury recorded a unanimous verdict after a week-long trial at Harrow Crown Court earlier this year.
Ms Oka-Koi, a church-goer who has undertaken charity work in Ghana, was also found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.
Judge Kaul added: “The aggravating feature here is that you failed to stop, even though you knew she had fallen off the bonnet.”