Additional reporting by Lydia Chantler-Hicks
A speeding Subway boss killed a courier in a hit-and-run that saw his body land in a skip, a court heard.
Donna Grant, of Folkestone, struck Covid test delivery driver Anthony Akpeki in the dark, leaving a passer-by to discover his body.
The 52-year-old mother is said to have fled from the scene in Dover to her Folkestone home in her wrecked Ford Focus.
Grant previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, however she denies having smoked cannabis before the crash.
It was previously ruled she could have a Newton Hearing, a mini-trial at Canterbury Crown Court in which a judge establishes disputed facts.
Grant claims cannabis found in her blood the day after the crash was due to her smoking the drug when she arrived home after the incident.
The tragedy unfolded at about 9.15pm the evening of December 17, 2020.
Mr Akpeki had just picked up Covid test kits from Hillbrow care home in Crabble Hill, Dover, when Grant struck him at 45mph.
The court heard when Mr Akpeki left the care home moments before his death, he told staff: “You’re all doing a brilliant job, I’m very proud to work for you all.
“I hope you stay safe and have a great Christmas.”
But as he carried goods towards his van in Crabble Hill, Grant was driving 15mph above the 30mph speed limit.
She struck him directly outside Hillbrow on a stretch of road without a pavement, propelling his body into the carehome’s skip, Canterbury Crown Court heard.
Skye Rowe, a Hillbrow care worker, discovered Mr Akpeki’s body at 9.20pm and alerted the authorities, prosecutors said.
Medics fought to revive Mr Akpeki, but he was pronounced dead at the scene - his cause of death later recorded as multiple injuries.
Tributes to Mr Akpeki posted online describe him as an "extraordinarily generous" man who "filled rooms with warmth and laughter".
Following the crash Grant immediately drove her damaged grey hatchback - which had a cracked windscreen and broken headlamp - to her home in Fairway Avenue.
While there, she sent WhatsApp messages to area managers showing the damage, claiming she hit a “green box,” the prosecution said.
She would later make searches on her phone for the phrases ‘hit and run Dover’ and ‘body found in Dover,’ said prosecutor Nina Ellin.
The next day, Grant drove the vehicle with its dented roof, cracked windscreen and broken headlamp to her workplace at the West Park Farm North Retail Park, Folkestone.
From there, she told insurers over the phone she hit a lamppost and needed repairs, the court heard.
But when the vehicle recovery driver met Grant he had doubts over the cause of the damage, the court heard.
“I thought this isn't just a post - but I didn't put two and two together at the time,” he told the court in a statement.
“She was definitely panicking, she said she crashed into a post and that was it.”
He said Grant repeatedly asked if the car was a ‘write-off’ and the interior “stank of cannabis.”
There was “cannabis scattered all over the car,” he added.
After he towed the vehicle away the police were informed and Grant was arrested. A test revealed she had 3.2 micrograms of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, per litre of blood. The legal limit is two micrograms.
In an interview, Grant said she believed she hit a British Telecom box or bollard, or “an animal of some sort.”
She said she stopped and checked the rear view mirror but didn’t exit the car “because I was scared.”
However a police probe into the satellite navigation system found the vehicle only slowed down after the collision, rather than stopping.
Defending her decision not to stop, Grant said she “didn’t think it was a human being” she had hit, instead thinking it may have been an animal or something thrown at her car.
“It was dark,” she said. “[I felt] vulnerable. I’m a widow - I wanted to get home to my daughter. It was December.
“I was scared. I was scared of an animal, somebody throwing bricks. It was pitch black.”
She said the impact was “like white paint being thrown at my windscreen” or “like lightning shattering glass”.
“I didn’t think it was a human being,” she added.
She denies she had been “lying” when she told police she stopped the car, arguing she was in shock after being informed she had hit a person.
“I can’t even recall what police station I was in that day,” she said. “To be told you’ve killed someone, that’s traumatising.
“It has affected my life, very much so,” she added, her voice breaking. “I didn’t see a gentleman. And I’m so sorry.”
Grant told detectives a cannabis grinder found in her car following her arrest belonged to Subway colleagues, who she allowed to smoke the drug inside her vehicle.
Two Subway employees took the stand, each of them claiming they believed they had personally left the grinder and marijuana in her car.
One of the employees had spent the afternoon with Grant before the manager drove her home in the evening, shortly before the crash.
She said: “Donna was absolutely fine when she was dropping us home. I felt really safe with her.
“I didn’t see Donna smoking any weed.”
The hearing has been adjourned until Tuesday.