Drug dealer who killed armed robber from Bedford jailed for 10 years

Luton Crown Court. Image: Thomas Nugent/Geograph
Luton Crown Court. Image: Thomas Nugent/Geograph

A drug dealer who ran over and killed an armed robber after he ran off with his cocaine and cash was jailed for 10 years and four months today (Friday).

Karan Soni, 27, drove a Vauxhall Insignia into Tola Piper, 34, from Bedford, causing him to fall onto the bonnet. He was then catapulted into the air when one of Insignia’s wheels locked with the victim’s getaway car, a Nissan Micra.

CCTV played to Luton crown court showed wheels of the Insignia came down of the 34-year-old Mr Piper in Dewsbury Road, Luton causing fatal crush injuries.

Mr Piper, a father of three with a partner of 17 years, from Bedford suffered fatal chest injuries.

More than £1,000 in cash, a knife and wraps of cocaine were also found strewn into the road.

Karan Soni, now 27, from Birchwood Avenue, Hatfield was found not guilty of murder but was convicted of manslaughter by a majority of 11 to 1.

He had admitted two charges of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and possession of drugs.

Prosecutor Martin Mulgrew : “On November 29th last year at 1pm Tola Piper was struck by a Vauxhall Insignia in Dewsbury Road in Luton.

“As a result he suffered fatal crash injuries to his chest and died.”

One witness was aware of a man running along a pavement, she heard a car horn and a driver take evasive action. There was a screeching noise as the Insignia turned into Dewsbury Road and then a crash.

The police and paramedics were called, but they were unable to save Mr Piper.

Soni was arrested the next day. In a written statement he said he had been threatened with a knife that was held to his throat.

He later admitted he had been dealing drugs and the cocaine and money found in the road belonged to him.

Mr Mulgrew told the jury: “Mr Soni was dealing in Class A drugs. This gave him the motive to get his drugs and cash back from Mr Piper. He angrily pursued Mr Piper.”

In the witness box Karan Soni said he did not realise his car had gone onto the pavement in Dewsbury Road, Luton, saying he was “frozen” and had simply been trying to block the robber’s get away car.

Giving evidence, he said had built up a cannabis debt and had been told to deliver drugs to a man in Parys Road, off Runfold Avenue.

He said he had never met Tola Piper before. When got into his car he pulled a machete out of a drawstring bag and placed it against his neck.

“I froze. He shouted: ‘Don’t try anything’. I put my hands up. He asked me to put the money and drugs in the drawstring bag. He pushed the blade into my neck and took my phone.”

The judge was told that a month earlier, on 31st October 2021, Soni was seen by the police in a car on Stoneygate Road, Luton. A search was carried out and wraps of crack and heroin were found along with £1,000. More drugs were found in a hotel room.

Mrs Justice Sara Cockerill said: “By the jury’s verdict they were sure the impact was not the result of the accident but that you deliberately drove at Mr Piper.”

The judge said in normal circumstances she said the victim would not have suffered serious harm but the wheels of the two cars interlinked and Mr Piper was catapulted from the bonnet of the Insignia, that had been travelling at 14.92 mph, ending up under the wheels of the Insignia. “ She described it as a freak incident.

She said the offence was aggravated because he was on bail, had used the car as a weapon and left the scene without reporting what happened, but said it was mitigated by the fact that he had no relevant convictions and was remorseful.

Soni was also banned from driving for five years and 11 months.

Reporting by South Beds News Agency

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