South East Wales

Cocaine driver Stephen Freye jailed for life for murder

Stephen Freye
Image caption Stephen Freye was jailed for life for the murder of Kyle Griffith

A driver who snorted 70 lines of cocaine before he drove at and killed a pedestrian returning home from work has been jailed for life.

Stephen Freye, 22, was convicted at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday of murdering chef Kyle Griffith, 25, as he walked through Cardiff Bay in January.

Freye had told the court he was in a "drug-induced psychosis" when he deliberately hit the father-of-one.

The judge ordered him to serve a minimum term of 13 years.

During his trial, the court heard Freye had immediately confessed to police at the scene, saying: "I was told to kill a stranger."

Mr Justice MacDuff said victim impact statements from Mr Griffith's mother, step-father and sister made for "harrowing reading".

"Kyle was a thoroughly lovely and worthwhile man whose life has been wasted," said the judge.

"He was an innocent man, a young man and father, and was walking home after a night in town and minding his own business when you ran him down.

"You were in a psychotic state, hallucinating and hearing the voice of your drug supplier telling you to kill.

Image caption Kyle Griffith, 25, died after being hit by a car in Cardiff Bay

"You had voluntarily taken drugs over three days when you knew full well the effect they had on you.

"You were tempted by your addiction but the decision was yours and you bear the responsibility."

The judge said Mr Griffith was a fine, hard-working young man with a promising life ahead of him who was greatly loved.

"He had a young daughter who he adored and he touched many lives," he continued.

"His sister had to celebrate her 21st birthday four days after her brother's death.

He told Freye: "You turned that event, a celebration, into one of mourning.

"You told the jury you were truly sorry. You were sorry, but only for yourself. Your words were hollow and your attitude in the dock today shows no contrition."

A spokesman for Mr Griffith's family said following the sentencing: "No punishment given could ever bring Kyle back nor ease the pain of his tragic and sudden death.

"However we are pleased that some justice has been done today." They also thanked police and medical staff who tried to save Mr Griffith's life.

Det Ch Insp Steve Benson-Davidson said the use of drugs was a key factor in the case, adding: "The message is quite simply drugs are not good for you. They affect different people in different ways.

"On this particular occasion, it has affected the defendant in a way which has resulted in him committing a murder."

'Voices had control of me'

The prosecution had described Mr Griffith as an "innocent" bystander, who was targeted because voices in Freye's head had told him his own family would die if he did not drive at the chef.

Mr Griffith worked at Cardiff Arts Institute in the city centre and had a four-year-old daughter.

Freye had denied murder but admitted manslaughter.

He told the court: "I was in a drug induced psychosis. The coke was so irresistible that when I got it from the dealer I started snorting it from the bag on the way back. I was just totally a slave to it.

"The voices had compete control of me. As soon as I saw him, the voices spoke."

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