A driver who treated city centre streets as a “racetrack” while being pursued by police has been jailed for nine years for causing the death of a student.

Joshua Gregory, 28, was travelling at speeds in excess of 80mph in a 30mph area when he drove through a red light and hit 31-year-old Sri Lankan national Oshada Jayasundera, who was crossing the road with friends, in the early hours of December 13 last year, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

Sentencing him, Recorder Paul Mann KC, said: “You were treating the city centre road as if it was a racetrack.”

Joshua Gregory Joshua Gregory (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

Richard Thatcher, prosecuting, said Gregory had taken the Ford Focus ST from the motor dealership where he worked on December 12 and spent the evening, into the early hours of the next day, driving it around Nottingham and surrounding areas.

Gregory, of Westfield Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, had been given permission to use a Fiat 500 by his employer but had not been told he could drive the Focus, which had already been sold and which he was not insured for, the court heard.

When police spotted the car at 3.10am and turned on their blue lights Gregory pulled into a petrol station but then “accelerated rapidly” away from them, disappearing from view, Mr Thatcher said.

The court heard that 10 minutes later he was seen by other officers, who pursued him after he turned the wrong way down a one-way street.

Mr Thatcher said the officers fell back in the pursuit as they entered a residential area, where Gregory was driving at 40mph.

Footage from the police car then showed it reach speeds of 78mph as it tried to catch up with the Ford Focus along Huntingdon Street.

Mr Jayasundera, a postgraduate student doing a Master’s degree in project management at Nottingham Trent University, was returning from a party with friends as he walked across a pedestrian crossing, the court heard.


Mr Thatcher said: “It is, the Crown submits, clear that the lights were showing red against oncoming traffic at the time the defendant would have gone through.”

Mr Jayasundera’s father, who had travelled with family from Sri Lanka for the sentencing, left the court as footage of the collision was played.

Recorder Mann said: “No-one imagined you would not stop at those lights, but none had time to assess just how fast you were approaching.

“You struck your victim as he was crossing the third lane. The force of the collision was such as to propel his body 46 metres. That in itself speaks to the speed you were travelling at that point.”

The court heard Gregory did not stop but collided with a traffic light shortly after and then ran from the car, being chased by officers.

Bodyworn footage showed an officer saying to him: “You’re pissed now though aren’t you? I can smell it on you.”

Gregory replied yes but then ran away from officers again when they tried to carry out a breathalyser test, the court heard.


Mr Thatcher said Gregory made no comment in interviews but later tried to blame Mr Jayasundera for the collision.

In a statement, Mr Jayasundera’s family said: “Our family will never recover from this loss for the rest of our lives.

“We will have to live with it, suffering every single second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, and all the years to come.”

Andrew Wesley, defending, said Gregory had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In a letter sent to the court, the defendant said he felt “great shame and sorrow”.

Gregory, who pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at an earlier hearing, looked down in the dock as he was sentenced.

The judge also ordered he be disqualified from driving for a period of seven-and-a-half years from the time he is eligible for release from prison.

Nottinghamshire Police referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following the collision.

An IOPC spokesman said: “Based on the available evidence, we found that the actions and decisions of all of the officers involved in the pursuit and management of the incident were reasonable, and in accordance with pursuits policies and guidance, and their training.”