‘Warm-hearted’ gran run over and killed by man who refused to pay her for sex

A “cheap, cynical and disdainful” white van driver zigzagged through the streets of Sutton with a mum-of-four hanging onto the side of his vehicle and ran her over when she fell off after he refused to pay her for sex.

James Martin, 27, drove his van away as Stella Frew was hanging from the side on July 24 last year.

Martin zigzagged through parked cars as Ms Frew, 38, hit an Audi and fell under the van wheels on Tonfield Road, the Old Bailey heard.

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He fled as members of the public rushed over to help Ms Frew, who had suffered “extensive” injuries and died at the scene.

Martin had also driven off with the victim’s handbag in his van, which he later threw into the road.

The court had been told the incident appeared to have been sparked by the defendant’s refusal to pay her for sex.

Stella Frew was killed after the falling from and being run over by a van driven by James Martin

Ms Frew, a grandmother to four young children, had problems with drugs and drink and was said to have been “out of her head” when she approached Martin.

Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay said: “She was obviously very desperate to obtain money and she would not have been willing to leave without it – and still less without her handbag.”

Martin had initially denied wrongdoing but had pleaded guilty to causing Stella’s death by dangerous driving on what would have been the first day of his trial.

There was a large police presence on Gillian Park Road, at the junction with Tonfield Road, after the crash

There was a large police presence on Gillian Park Road, at the junction with Tonfield Road, after the crash

Judge Richard Marks QC noted that Martin’s expressions of remorse were “largely centred on the effect on himself and his family” and he had shown “little empathy” for his victim.

Judge Marks told Martin: “She did not deserve to die in the circumstances that she did.

“It is clear from the evidence that she got dragged along the road, coming into contact with a parked vehicle.

“Your van drove over her body causing her fatal injuries. She had a tyre mark vertically up her back from her pelvis to her neck.

“Your behaviour in the course of this incident and in particular at and towards the end of the incident was cheap, cynical and disdainful.”

The judge went on: “Having driven away not having paid her a penny piece… you demonstrated the contempt for which you held her by throwing her handbag from the window.”

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Earlier, Stella’s two grown-up daughters had described their mother’s troubled life in which they said she had suffered abuse at the hands of men.

Frankie Cottrell said: “Stella was a vulnerable young woman exploited by many due to her kindness, especially by men.

“It pains us that Stella’s life has been ended by the actions of a male too.”

She went on: “She was somebody, she had a family who love her dearly.

“Mr Martin may have thought my mum was worthless but to us she was everything.”

Georgie Cottrell described her mother as “the kindest, most warm-hearted woman”.

She said: “In her life she had always been abused and hurt by men and that is why this pains us all so much – that she had died due to one too.”

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