A judge said it was a matter of “luck not judgement” that a Nissan driver had not killed a man in a Rodbourne hit-and-run.

Jailing Mohammed Ali for six years and four months at Swindon Crown Court on Monday for running down Morgan Sheppard outside The Dolphin pub, Judge Robert Pawson said the 20-year-old needed to reflect on the affect his actions had had on his victim and the “anguish and emotional torture” he had put his family through.

His victim, Mr Sheppard, was left in a coma for a week and in intensive care for three after he was struck by the Nissan Juke in Rodbourne Road on March 6.

Judge Pawson said: “If you had killed him, if he’d have died, you’d be going to prison for life.

“There’d be a minimum sentence that would be imposed. That would have been a minimum sentence of perhaps 20 years; a lifetime, the best 20 years of your life gone for taking another human life.

“Anyway, you didn’t kill him; a matter of luck not judgement.”

Ali, formerly of Warneford Road, had been due to stand trial this week on an allegation of wounding with intent. But, after the judge indicated on Monday afternoon that he would likely impose a sentence of less than six years and nine months, the Toothill man changed his plea to guilty.

Prosecutor Nicholas Cotter said the Crown would offer no evidence against Ali’s co-defendant, Benjamin Danso-Obeng, and formal not guilty verdicts were recorded. The men had originally been charged with attempted murder.

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Mohammed Ali's custody shot Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Mr Cotter, for the Crown, said Ali was behind the wheel of a grey Nissan Juke in London Street, in the Railway Village, shortly after 3pm on Friday, March 6. A friend, Polish national Sebastian Kowalski, was with him in the car.

They saw Morgan Sheppard walking with others in the area. The day before there had been some disagreement between Mr Sheppard and Ali, with a suggestion it had involved a drug deal. Ali called his friend Benjamin Danso-Obeng and went to pick him up.

The Nissan continued past the railway station, left at the Cockleberry roundabout and onto Great Western Way. Mr Sheppard carried on walking under the railway line and towards the designer outlet.

Ali drove down Rodbourne Road, onto Bristol Street then doubled back on himself at Emlyn Square – heading back towards Rodbourne.

He dropped Danso-Obeng off on Rodbourne Road and tried to turn around in Jennings Street, but his path was blocked by another driver who sounded her horn. Ali carried on up Rodbourne Road and turned round in Percy Street.

As he drove back down Rodbourne Road he saw Danso-Obeng involved in an argument with Mr Sheppard’s group. In a basis of plea, he said he had driven his car at the group in defence of his friend.

The Nissan mounted the pavement and struck Mr Sheppard, sending him flying into the air. Crash investigators estimated the car had been travelling at around 28mph.

Ali drove off towards the outlet centre, parked up and fled. The next day he took a National Express coach to London before negotiating his surrender a week later at Gablecross police station. Kowalski fled to Poland, where he has remained.

Interviewed four times by police, Ali made no comment to all questions he was asked.

Mr Sheppard was flown to Southmead Hospital in Bristol. He had suffered a severe head injury that left him in a coma for a week. He was on the intensive care unit for several weeks and had to undergo a number  of procedures, including a tracheotomy, but has since made a full recovery. He had not provided a victim impact statement.

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Crash investigators at the scene in Rodbourne Road Picture: ADVER

Defending, Jack Talbot said his client was remorseful and would like to write a letter of apology to his victim if Mr Sheppard wished it. He continued to experience flashbacks to the incident that landed him in the dock, with a doctor suggesting he suffered from post-traumatic stress.

Ali was young and came from a good family, Mr Talbot said. He had been educated at Toothill primary school and Bradon Forest School before going on to New College and a succession of jobs.

As a youngster he had experienced racist bullying and suffered from anxiety.

In the seven months he had been on remand at Bullingdon prison he had attained enhanced prisoner status and had a job sorting parcels within the jail.

In addition to his jail sentence of six years and four months, Ali was banned from driving for two years – with the ban coming into force upon his release from prison.

Danso-Obeng, who in 2018 was jailed for more than two years for drug dealing, had been recalled on licence, the court heard.