Beds, Herts & Bucks

Natalie Hastings murder: Hemel killer jailed for life

Simon Whittle Image copyright Facebook/SBNA
Image caption Simon Whittle was told he would spend at least 20 years in prison

A drug dealer who ran over his friend's fiancé, leaving her injured in the road while he retrieved heroin from his car, has been given a life sentence.

Natalie Hastings, 41, died a day after Simon Whittle knocked her down in Queensway, Hemel Hempstead, on 15 January, 2018.

Whittle, 49, of Fletcher Way, Hemel Hempstead, denied murder but was found guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court.

He was told he must serve a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption Natalie Hastings had been friends with Simon Whittle for 20 years, the court heard

The trial heard Whittle had given multiple explanations for the crash, including struggling with his passenger and swerving to avoid a fox in the road.

Jurors were shown CCTV of Miss Hastings fleeing from Whittle's car shortly before her death.

A witness told the court her killer had shouted "you're dead" just before running her over.

Miss Hastings' fiancé Paul Stanley, 51, described hearing two loud bangs and her calling out his name.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The car crashed into a shop after Miss Hastings was struck

As he ran over to help her, Mr Stanley told the court, a "snarling" Whittle "tried to hit me with his crutch".

The jury was told Whittle had been friends with Miss Hastings for 20 years and until recently been Mr Stanley's lodger.

An alleged robbery at the flat had damaged their friendship, the court heard.

The jury heard the trio were involved in selling drugs.

Whittle did not attempt to help his friend after mowing her over and instead removed heroin from his car, the jury was told.

Miss Hastings' sister Stacey paid tribute to a woman with "a heart that was made of solid gold", and added "her laugh and love was infectious".

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