Former Norwich City player’s brother-in-law takes his Ferrari and crashes into tree
PUBLISHED: 12:24 28 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:50 28 March 2018
All broadcast news outlets - including Anglia News; but excluding BBC Look East and East On-Line - will need to agree a fee for
A former Norwich City footballer’s brother-in-law has admitted crashing the player’s brand new £250,000 Ferrari, moments after it was delivered.
The collision with a tree caused around £93,000 damage to the grey Ferrari 488 GTB, which had just been delivered that day to the home of Championship footballer Lewis Grabban.
The Aston Villa striker, who made 42 appearances for the Canaries from 2014-2016, knew he wouldn’t be at his home in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, that morning for the delivery, so it was arranged that his wife’s brother, Michael O’Donnell, would be there to “take receipt” of the vehicle.
The footballer who, at the time was a forward with championship side Reading, left home that morning last April at around 7.25am knowing his cherished new car would soon be delivered.
A few hours later, the luxury car arrived at the player’s home, and O’Donnell, 26, and his friend Gokan Kiziloz, also 26, were waiting.
St Albans crown court was told that, after the delivery, the pair started the engine and then posed for photos and video clips by the car.
They then made the fateful decision to take it for a drive.
Prosecutor Peter Shaw said it was decided that, because O’Donnell had injured his wrist the day before, Kiziloz would drive and O’Donnell would sit in the front passenger seat of the car, which had cost the player a quarter of a million pounds.
Despite the fact he was not insured to drive such a high powered vehicle, he told O’Donnell he had driven a Porsche in the past and would be able to handle it.
Recorder Leslie Cuthbert, hearing the case, was told that having driven along Vineyards Road in Potters Bar, they decided to turn around and head back to the home of Mr Grabban and his wife Catherine.
Mr Shaw said it was as the pair were returning with Kiziloz still behind the wheel, that the crash happened shortly before 11.30 that morning.
“He put his foot down slightly and lost control,” said the prosecutor.
He said the back end swerved and the vehicle came off the road and “hit a tree.”
In court Kiziloz, of Bulmer Road, Edmonton in North London, and O’Donnell of Barfield Avenue, Barnet, Hertfordshire, both pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking. Kiziloz also admitted driving with no insurance.
Mr Shaw said the pair climbed out of the wrecked car dazed and shocked and O’Donnell phoned his sister Catherine to tell her what had happened.
At first she thought he was joking, but when he returned to the house on foot and she saw a cut to his face, she realised he was telling the truth.
The court heard he then returned to the scene of the crash and, with Kiziloz, waited until the police and ambulances arrived.
The prosecutor said the car was brand new when it was delivered to the footballer’s home that morning.
Following the accident he said it was shipped back to the Ferrari factory in Italy for repairs where the final cost for the work carried out is likely to be in the region of £93,500.
Mr Raymond Ali, for O’Donnell, who works in marketing and who was of previous good character, said “It was a moment of madness.”
He said that, as a result of what happened that day, the relationship between his client and his sister had been affected.
John Swain for Kiziloz said his client, like his co-defendant, was now thinking “Why on earth did we do that?”
He said getting behind the wheel of the car and without insurance and not being able “to handle it” had been a serious misjudgment.
Mr Swain said Kiziloz was a carer for his mother and any disqualification from driving would have an impact on her.
“That is something on his conscience as well that, because of a moment of stupidity, his mother will suffer as well. This has been a very steep learning curve for a young man with no previous conviction to find himself in the crown court,” said the barrister.
Passing sentence, Recorder Cuthbert told the men they had “foolishly” agreed to take the vehicle for a drive that morning.
“Neither of you stopped to think of the consequences,” he said, telling them that the fact Kiziloz thought he could drive such a high powered vehicle was just one example of the foolishness they’d shown.
He said “You took this vehicle out for a joyride in breach of trust of the owner Mr Grabban,” adding “You have no one but yourselves to blame for the sentences I impose.”
Both were given a 12-month community order and O’Donnell was ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work and Kiziloz was told he must perform 24 hours of unpaid work.
Both were disqualified from driving for 12 months.