'We are utterly broken' - Sheldon Flanighan's sister tells of her grief as his killer is jailed for 28 years
A Blyth man convicted of murder and attempted murder has been jailed for a minimum of 28 years.
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The family of Sheldon Flanighan have spoken of their grief after his killer, Toby Kelly, was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday, November 15.
Kelly, of Wansbeck Avenue in Blyth, ran over ambulance worker Sheldon Flanighan and his friend Wayne Common at the Bay Horse pub, in Cramlington, on April 1. Sheldon and Wayne had been socialising in the pub when they noticed a disturbance between Kelly and associate Shannon Wooden - with the pair offering their assistance to her.
After Kelly, Wooden and another man, David Fairclough, were ejected from the pub, they got into 38-year-old Kelly's van.
When Sheldon and Wayne left the venue, Kelly drove his vehicle into them, causing devastating injuries, before leaving the scene.
Wayne was taken to hospital with serious injuries - he was later released but has been left with long-term injuries following the incident.
Kelly, Wooden and Fairclough were all arrested in connection with the incident and were all later charged with Sheldon’s murder and attempted murder of Wayne.
The case against Wooden and Fairclough was later dropped, with no further action to be taken against them.
During the trial, jurors heard damning evidence of his shocking behaviour and were shown body worn video footage of him laughing and joking just moments after he learned about Sheldon's death.
A judge sentenced him to a minimum of 28 years for Sheldon's murder and 13 years and 149 days for the attempted murder of Wayne, to be served concurrent.
He will also be banned from driving for three years following his release from prison.
During the sentencing hearing, a victim impact statement was read out to the court from Sheldon's sister, Julia.
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The statement detailed the family's heartbreak at the loss of Sheldon and assured those closest to him that he will never be forgotten.
It said: “Sheldon was an amazing character. He filled our lives with love and care, fun and antics, and hilarious laughter.
“He was a dedicated dad and was so very proud of his sons. Sheldon always gave his time to his boys; they had a very strong father-and-son relationship, built with love, devotion, and fun.
“My sister Sharon and I are seven months without our adored brother Sheldon, and we are still utterly broken without him.
“The overwhelming heartbreak is real, an ache, a piercing pain that cannot be cured. Perhaps it may ease over time, but it continues to be acute and devastating to this day.
“Myself, I am consumed with an overwhelming emptiness and sadness at the loss of Sheldon’s life.
"I too have deep anger over the atrocity of his terrible death, which is accompanied by intense anxiety that adequate retribution will be delivered.
"I am still overcome by the never-ending tortuous questions as to why this has happened, what the future holds, and what I can do to mend my family.
“I feel guilty that I am still here when Sheldon has gone, but I am determined that his memory will live on.
“Sheldon has lost his life and his dreams of seeing his sons grow, having their families, and enjoying future grandchildren.
"His life was spent caring for others in the Ambulance Service, and his retirement was going to be his time to enjoy.
“He was a beloved character, his caring and his fun-loving nature endeared him to friends, colleagues and patients.
“It is difficult to comprehend how we go forward without Sheldon. It is a tragedy that the world will be without him. We will go forward but with heavy hearts.
"A piece of our family has been taken from us. Nothing short of his return will ever compensate for the loss we have to feel every day.
“Sheldon’s family will forever be impacted. In our hearts, Sheldon will never be forgotten.”