The man who killed two people on the M25 in February was a violent criminal driving a stolen van against oncoming traffic specifically to thwart the police, a court has heard.

Barancan Nurcin, 22, of High Road, Tottenham, was on court bail and a suspended sentence for two previous “cowardly” attacks, one of which left a man with a bleed on the brain.

He was also banned from driving due to heavy cannabis use and had a previous conviction for drugs possession.

Nurcin had driven to Northampton in the middle of the night and the vehicle was flagged on his way back as stolen, St Albans Crown Court was told on Friday (June 21).

Prosecutor Mark Fenhalls KC said the reason for the late night trip was never uncovered, but was assumed to have been linked to “serious crime” - possibly some sort of “drop-off”.

He added that it was “well known” by “professional criminals and experienced criminals” that driving against oncoming traffic was a good way to evade police.

Detective Sergeant Ben Heath testified at Nurcin’s sentencing hearing that police cannot chase suspects the wrong way up a busy road, due to the risk to the public.

The court was shown CCTV of two violent offences committed by Nurcin in the lead-up to the fatal crash.

In April 2021, he carried out an unprovoked attack on a man in a shop in Chingford.

“The defendant approaches a man wholly without justification and punches him from behind," said Mr Fenhalls.

"It's a cowardly attack from behind with no apparent reason or justification for it."

He then carried out another, even worse attack on another person.

CCTV footage showed the second attack, in February 2023, occurred in Willoughby Road, Wood Green.

Nurcin again came up behind somebody and attacked them, leaving them with a bleed on the brain.

Mr Fenhalls said it was the sort of attack which could easily have resulted in death.

He was sentenced for that offence in May 2023.

At Wood Green Crown Court, he was handed 15 months, suspended for two years.

Nurcin was subject to that suspended sentence and still on court bail for the first attack when he caused the deaths of Mrs Hawes and Mr Dek.

Having caused the deadly pile-up, he left the mortally wounded Mr Dek in the van, made no attempt to help any of the other casualties and, said Mr Fenhalls, attempted to flee.

He was found atop a nearby bridge with a broken pelvis.

Defence barrister Edward McKiernan said his client had been the subject of a “character assassination”.

He said there was insufficient evidence to say Nurcin had used the stolen van to commit serious crime on the night of the chase and collision.

He also disputed that knowing to drive against traffic to shake off police indicated Nurcin was a serious criminal.

“It‘s a fairly commonplace thing that people who have behaved badly in driving become aware through contact with other people - not serious, organised criminals - that police tend to call off pursuits in certain circumstances,” he said.

Of Nurcin’s disappearance from the accident site, Mr McKiernan said he had climbed the bridge “on adrenaline”.

“He got to the top of that bridge and he looked down at the chaos and the carnage and he knew he was involved in it and he just collapsed there and stayed there,” he said.

“So there could have been further flight and there was not.”