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Friday, 6 July, 2001, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Coghlan killer gets life
bradford crown court
Gary Day was jailed for life at Bradford Crown Court
A robber who killed the prostitute at the centre of the 1987 Lord Archer libel trial in a car crash has been jailed for life.

Monica Coghlan died after her Ford Fiesta was hit head-on by a stolen Jaguar driven by drug addict Gary Day, 32, who was making his getaway after raiding a pharmacy.

Judge Norman Jones branded Day "a menace and a danger to the public" and told him: "This was the most appalling and horrifying series of offences.

"As a result of your conduct a wholly innocent lady has been swept to her death.

Monica Coghlan
Monica Coghlan during the 1987 libel trial
"I have seen the photos resulting from this accident and her car was literally smashed to smithereens.

"She very sadly died in hospital, leaving a 16-year-old son - nothing I can say or do can bring her back."

Day, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, admitted manslaughter and also pleaded pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing a firearm at Bradford Crown Court.

The crash happened in Scammonden, West Yorkshire, on 26 April.

Air ambulance

Ms Coghlan, 50, was cut free by firefighters and taken by air ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary where she died the following day.

The crash followed an earlier incident when Day brandished a replica handgun during a raid on a chemist shop in Birkby, near Huddersfield.

He escaped from the scene after hijacking a taxi and was seen driving on the wrong side of the road.

A few minutes later he smashed into the back of a Land Rover.

A man driving a 30,000 S-Type Jaguar stopped to help - and Day threatened him with the pistol and took the car.

'Strong message'

He smashed into Ms Coghlan's car as he drove on the wrong side of the road.

A breath test calculated that he had consumed twice the legal limit of alcohol. Drugs and amphetamines were also detected in his blood.

The judge recommended that Day should serve at least nine years before becoming eligible for parole.

He said he had to send a strong message to others who might be tempted to carry out robbery and then attempt to escape in get-away vehicles.

He also banned Day from driving for 15 years.

Libel case

Ms Coghlan was thrust into the limelight in 1987 when Mr Archer, now Lord Archer, sued the Daily Star for libel.

The multi-millionaire novelist and former Tory party deputy chairman successfully sued The Star after it ran an article saying he had slept with Ms Coghlan.

After the publicity of the case Ms Coghlan gave up prostitution, moved to Rochdale and lived quietly with her teenage son.

Lord Archer is currently on trial at the Old Bailey accused of perjury in relation to the 1987 libel trial.

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