Drunk-driver, 25, who LAUGHED after causing crash that killed mother-of-two, 52, is jailed for eight years: Motorist smashed into Uber while doing up to 57mph in 20 zone

  • Steve Boochoon smashed his car into an Uber carrying victim Franca Grossi, 52
  • Boochoon had been disqualified and was driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Mother of two teenage daughters, Ms Grossi, died the next day from her injuries 
  • This morning at the Old Bailey Boochoon was sentenced to eight years in prison  

A drunk-driver who laughed after he crashed his car, travelling more than three times the speed limit, into an Uber and killed a mother-of-two has been jailed for eight years. 

Franca Grossi, 52, head receptionist at Toni & Guy academy, was going home with friends after an evening out when Steve Boochoon, 25, smashed into the car.

Grossi, who has two teenage daughters, was killed while two others, including the driver, were injured in the crash on Hornsey Rise, Haringey, north London, at around 12.10am on August 13.

The car was travelling between 54 and 57mph on a 20mph on the wrong side of the road.

Boochoon, who was disqualified from driving at the time, was so drunk he laughed when he got out of his wrecked Volkswagen the Old Bailey heard.

Mother-of-two Franca Grossi, 52, died after Steve Boochoon, 25, crashed into the Uber taking her home from work drinks. Boochoon had been travelling three times the speed limit, on the wrong side of the road 

At the scene of the crash, when a police officer pointed towards the destroyed taxi and asked what he thought, he replied ‘to be honest, it’s their problem’. 

Ms Grossi was travelling home with best friend of 20 years, Toni & Guy creative director Francesco Fontana, 48, after work drinks at the Bloomsbury Tavern in central London.

Mr Fontana escaped with cuts and bruises but sadly Ms Grossi died from her injuries the next day.

The maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving was raised by parliament to life imprisonment for offences after June this year.

Today, however, Judge Mark Dennis chose to sentence based on the previous maximum of 14 years as sentencing guidelines for the new maximum have not yet been finalised.

Judge Dennis told Boochoon: ‘This was a dreadful tragedy which in a moment has blighted the lives of so many.

‘You acted in disregard to your driving ban and the driving laws and you displayed a total disregard for the safety of other road users.

‘Sadly, Franca Grossi has paid the ultimate price for your recklessness.’

Victim Ms Grossi, 52, on the right, pictured with her friend of 20 years Francesco Fontana

Prosecutor Ben Holt said: ‘The defendant was driving a Volkswagen Golf along Hornsey Rise.

‘At this time he was disqualified from driving, had no insurance and was on the wrong side of the road.

‘His speed was at least 50mph with the limit being 20mph.

‘His car collided with an Uber taxi outside the forecourt of a BP petrol station.’

Ms Grossi’s husband James Manns read an impact statement to court, placing a photo of his wife on the front of the witness box.

He said: ‘The killing of my wife and the mother of our two young daughters has devastated us.

‘We still can’t and I doubt we will come to terms with this tragedy.

‘Every day I feel sick in the pit of my stomach and I will never get over the image in my head of when I was with Franca the day she died in hospital. A piece of me also died that day.

Ms Grossi was head receptionist at the Toni & Guy academy. She leaves behind two teenagers and her husband James Manns 

‘It has also devastated her mother, four sisters and nieces, having to come to terms with the fact she has so wrongfully been taken away from us so soon.

‘She was a young, kind, generous, passionate and happy woman always laughing and helping out people with such sincere honesty and love.

‘The loss of Franca and the impact of her death has brought huge financial stress to me and our two daughters with the worry of paying rent, bills and food a daily concern.

‘I’m left with anger and hatred towards Steve Boochoon which I have never felt towards anyone in my life before.

‘I will never forgive nor forget what he has done.’

Looking at Boochoon in the dock he said: ‘He has destroyed me and my life will never be the same.’

He added that his eldest daughter was too traumatised to give an impact statement.

Mr Holt said the Uber driver described seeing something flying towards him so fast he did not realise it was a car.

Following the incident, Boochoon was asked by police if he had been drinking to which he replied ‘I’ve only had two shots bro’. 

Police reported there was a strong smell of alcohol on Boochoon, his eyes were bloodshot and he looked unsteady.

He was asked by a policeman if he was finding the situation funny, to which he replied that he was. Boochoon went on to blame the taxi driver for the crash. .

Smashed glass bottles and drug paraphernalia including rolling papers were found in his car.

Mr Fontana told the court: ‘Dear Franca, I’ve been trying to write about my life without you for last nine weeks.

‘I didn’t want to because writing or talking about it makes it real.

‘The truth is that it is real and nothing could be done or said to change it or make it better.

‘It’s not possible to put into words the impact the dangerous driving of Steve Boochoon has had on my life.

‘Most people wake up from a nightmare but I wake up every morning to a real one. I struggle into work and I’m not the same person I was before.

‘It has been beautiful to have you in my life for 20 years.

‘From the first time we met I knew it was going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Both from Italy we had not much money, not much English spoken but we were pursuing our dreams.

‘It felt amazing to have my best friend working with me. Since then you have been the first person I have seen when walking through the door and normally the last one.

‘It didn’t just break the hearts of your many friends and family but others too, people from all over the globe, customers and students here at work for 18 years.

‘90 per cent of the people who come in are asking what happened to you and then we have to relive the trauma and see other people breaking down.

‘I don’t understand why dangerous people are left on our streets while you won’t be here to see your girls growing up.’

Boochoon has a previous conviction for driving whilst intoxicated which is why he was disqualified on the day of the offence.

His defence lawyer Peter Rowlands said it was not prolonged or persistent speeding and that Boochoon had shown genuine remorse.

Boochoon had good character references from staff at the restaurant where he worked.

He also previously worked at an estate agents, the court heard.

Judge Dennis said: ‘Following the collision the defendant failed to show any compassion or concern for others.

‘He was driving in a highly reckless way, in a residential area a night, at excessive speed nearly three times the speed limit.

‘In his manner of driving he had already nearly knocked down a pedestrian, and he was driving while intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs.

‘Franca Grossi’s family should be commended for the quiet dignity and composure they have shown throughout the court proceedings.’

Eight’s members of the victim’s family and friends attended in the well of the court, while nine members of the defendant’s attended in the public gallery.

Boochoon, of Brook Road, Hornsey, admitted causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by driving while disqualified, causing death by driving while uninsured and using a motor vehicle in a public place with no insurance.

He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and will be banned from driving for 10 years and five months.

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