The devastated son of a pensioner who died after being shoved to the ground in a road rage attack said he still can’t make sense of the fact is “no longer here”.
James Gill was described by a judge as being a “lethal weapon” when he fractured the skull of Neil Robinson, 75, in an unprovoked attack after accusing him of “walking on the wrong side of the road”.
Nottingham Crown Court was told Mr Robinson died in hospital six days after being pushed over by Gill, 39, who was on his lunch break from an electrician’s training course.
Gill has now been sentenced to nine years for the grandfather’s manslaughter after previously admitting the offence.
‘I literally can’t make sense of the fact he is no longer here’
The court heard Gill – a heavy drinker and cocaine user – was driving along Ranson Road, Chilwell on 16 December last year, when he became irritated at Mr Robinson, who was crossing the road.
Gill then got out of his car and shouted at him before shoving him so hard in the chest that it knocked him backwards.
In a victim impact statement Mr Robinson’s son Benjamin said: “I will never forget when my father’s death really hit me. It happened on Christmas Eve, which was two days after he had passed away in hospital.
“I finally plucked up the courage to go to his apartment. The apartment was as if he had just stepped out for a coffee, which is exactly what he had done.
“All of the signs of a life being lived just waiting for him to return and pick up where he left off. What really got me was the pile of presents on the dining table, cards unopened waiting to be opened, including from his grandchildren.”
He added: “My father’s death has affected me deeply. I still find his death senseless; I literally can’t make sense of the fact he is no longer here. I miss him so much.”
Gill had been ‘constantly talking about violence’
In the hours after the attack on Mr Robinson, Gill carried out a string of other offences.
Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor Sarah Knight said Gill drove to Nottingham from Doncaster on 16 December and was drinking from a bottle containing ethanol at the training course while “constantly talking about violence and bigging himself up”.
The prosecutor told the court: “In addition to the attack that Mr Robinson sustained, (Gill) embarked on a rampage of violence and aggression.
“Mr Robinson was on foot crossing the road. (A witness) observed the defendant get out of his car and walk briskly.”
Another witness, the court head, saw Gill used both hands to push Mr Robinson hard in the chest, causing him to fall backwards.
After the attack on Mr Robinson, Gill stole a bottle of vodka as well as Ribena and chocolate from a nearby supermarket and returned to the training course, where he was asked to leave after remaining “angry and disruptive”.
He was next seen in the Toton area of Nottinghamshire, where he threw a bottle out of his car window and it smashed on a wall.
After a female driver asked him to pick up his litter, the court was told Gill responded: “I know littering is wrong but so is arson and I am more than happy to set fire to your car.”
A 68-year-old man was then dragged out of his car and repeatedly punched in the face after he too remonstrated with Gill.
Gill admitted manslaughter, four counts of assaulting an emergency worker, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, drink-driving, criminal damage, two shoplifting offences and making off without payment.
He has numerous previous convictions dating back to 2009, including one for robbery in 2012.
The court heard he made no comment to police after his eventual arrest – which saw two more officers attacked – in the Doncaster area, following a collision which left two female motorists with non-serious injuries.
‘He was doing nothing more than trying to cross the road’
He was sentenced to a total of 10 years and nine months, which included the nine years for the manslaughter of Mr Robinson.
Judge Rafferty told Gill he believed he had a “chemically induced” disorder in personality during the “catalogue of carnage” on 16 December.
“Mr Robinson was a 75-year-old, frail, slender man,” the judge added. “He was doing nothing more than trying to cross the road.
“For whatever reason you were annoyed by the fact that he was in the road. You didn’t have to stop, you could simply have driven away.
“You confronted him, no doubt towering over him as you have others in this case. You thrust him in the chest with such force as to cause bruising and propel him backwards.”
Road rage was an aggravating feature in the killing, the judge said, telling Gill: “Your attitude that day was one of ‘me against the world’.
“It is not an exaggeration to describe you that day as being a lethal weapon.”
As well as the jail sentence, the judge banned Gill, of Arksey, Doncaster, from the roads for five years – effective from the time he is released on license from prison.
Detective Inspector Steve Wragg, of Nottinghamshire Police, said following the sentencing, he said: “Gill’s attack on Mr Robinson was cowardly and completely unprovoked. It cost an innocent man his life and left a family completely devastated.
“Of course, no sentence imposed could put things right and my thoughts remain with Mr Robinson’s family at what continues to be an extremely painful time for them.”