Drug-dealer driver gets life for the murder of Rebecca Steer in Oswestry

Convicted drug-dealer Stephen McHugh has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years for murdering Rebecca Steer by deliberately driving into a crowd of pedestrians in Oswestry like "human skittles".

Murderer Stephen McHugh. Photo: West Mercia Police
Murderer Stephen McHugh. Photo: West Mercia Police

McHugh, of Artillery Road, Park Hall, was convicted on Thursday of murder and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, after jurors heard the 28-year-old drove onto a footpath less than five minutes after snorting cocaine.

Rebecca, 22, from Llanymynech, died after she was hit by McHugh's car outside a takeaway in Willow Street in Oswestry in the early hours of October 9 last year.

Flowers laid in memory of Rebecca Steer, inset, who died in Willow Street, Oswestry

McHugh, 28, was found guilty on Thursday of her murder and attempted grevious bodily harm of Kyle Roberts, who was injured in the town centre incident outside the Grill Out takeaway, following a two-week trial at Stafford Crown Court.

The court had heard how McHugh had "used his car as a weapon" to drive into the group, following an earlier altercation.

Passing sentence on Friday, Mr Justice Andrew Baker said McHugh, originally from Fazakerley in Liverpool, had reacted to verbal abuse directed at his erratic driving by treating pedestrians "like they were human skittles".

Willow Street, the scene of the killing

Describing the murder of Ms Steer as an outrage, the judge told McHugh: "It could so easily have been much worse for the general group on the pavement.

"For Becky Steer, as everyone in court knows, it could not have been worse."

The court had heard how Miss Steer had been an innocent bystander when McHugh, who was high on cocaine and drunk at the time of the incident, had "used his car as a weapon" to drive into the group of young people with the intention to cause serious injury following an earlier altercation.

Before sentencing McHugh to life imprisonment, Mr Justice Andrew Baker had heard from Rebecca Steer's parents, David and Jennie Steer, who said their daughter, who wanted to be a detective, had been "flying through her course" at Liverpool John Moores University.

She had been that "rare and beautiful thing, a person liked by everyone who got to know her," Miss Steer's mother had said.

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The court was also read an impact statement from Kyle Roberts, who was injured outside the Grill Out on the night Rebecca died.

He said he still suffered panic attacks, nightmares, and had problems with short term memory loss. He also said he "blamed himself" for the loss of his friend Rebecca Steer.

Mr Justice Baker was also told of McHugh's criminal past, which included a two-year and three-month jail sentence in May 2020 after admitting the possession of a shotgun, along with numerous previous convictions of supplying Class A and Class B drugs in Liverpool, where he was originally from.

The judge, described McHugh's actions on the night of the incident in Willow Street, as "outrageous" and said the way he drove over the young woman was "sickening".

Police released a short CCTV video of the moments before McHugh drove into the crowd:

He said: "You arrived, Stephen McHugh, behind the wheel of your Volvo, driving too fast and too close to the pavement. unfit to be driving anywhere.

"Inside a minute later you drove the Volvo through young adults on Willow Street like they were human skittles intending to cause really serious injury."

He added: "The fact it was illegal to drive at all makes it even more of an outrage."

He told McHugh, who had earlier through his defence counsel apologised for causing the death of Miss Steer, that while he added shown "genuine remorse" there was "substantial aggravating factors".

"Firstly you were at the wheel drunk and high on cocaine," he said, adding that has had also "used your car as a weapon".

He also acknowledged McHugh's criminal past and previous jail sentences that had "done nothing to kerb illegal use" of cocaine.

The judge added that "while no sentence covers the loss" felt by Miss Steer's family, he handed McHugh a life sentence for the murder of Rebecca Steer and told him he would not be eligible for parole for at least 18 years.

He also sentenced McHugh to four-and-a-half years, to run concurrent, for the attempted grievous bodily harm of Kyle Roberts.

McHugh's gold Volvo was also ordered to be destroyed.

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