THE family of a man killed by a hit and run driver today (Friday February 15) spoke of their anger at the sentence imposed on the motorist responsible.

Pantelimon Iordache was jailed for nine months for leaving Dean Laing lying unconscious between cars at the side of the road after colliding with him on Claypath, Durham, early on Sunday, November 10.

Durham Crown Court heard that Mr Laing, 37, was walking home to nearby Gilesgate, following a night out in the city centre, when the collision took place, at about 2.40am.

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David Wilkinson, prosecuting, said a passing taxi driver, heading down Claypath, saw Mr Laing walking close to cars parked at the side of the road, eating chips.

Mr Wilkinson said the taxi driver estimated the Vauxhall Astra, driven by Iordache, was travelling at between 40 and 50-miles per hour on the 30-limit road approaching Mr Laing.

“The taxi driver saw the front passenger side of the Astra collide with Mr Laing, causing him to be thrown into the air and collide with a car parked at the side of the road.

“He then saw the defendant’s vehicle brake and slow down, before speeding away to Gilesgate roundabout at the top of the street.”

Mr Laing was confirmed dead, from head injuries, en route to hospital.

Police were informed of a damaged Vauxhall Astra parked in a back lane in Bearpark, near Durham, late on the Sunday night.

While police were at the scene, Iordache, 37, of nearby South View, approached and claimed to have been involved in a collision with a deer that evening.

He was arrested and initially maintained that story in interview, but he subsequently admitted causing death by careless driving and failing to stop after an accident.

The prosecution accepted those pleas and a formal ‘not guilty’ verdict was recorded on the original charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

David Callan, mitigating, said Iordache, a Romanian national lawfully in the country, was working as a chef at a Lanchester restaurant.

He said on the night of the incident Iordache drank two bottles of lager, visiting a snooker club and pub in Durham.

The court heard he has a previous conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol while living in Virgina, USA, in October 2004.

Passing the nine-month term of imprisonment, Recorder Simon Brown said, given the recommended guidelines and ‘credit’ for the guilty pleas, he was restricted in the sentence he could impose.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Laing’s uncle, Michael Winter, who was among a large family gathering at court, said: “Where is the justice in that?

“They say the sentence can go from six to nine months up to five years. What do you have to do to get five years, come back and reverse over him?"

He said Mr Laing, a former boxer, was a larger than life, popular character.

The keen runner and cyclist, who previously rode the length of the country and back for charity, lived with his father, David, in Gilesgate.

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