Man took car and drove off with owner on bonnet, court told
A MAN took a car and drove off at speed with its owner clinging on to the bonnet, a court heard.
Drugged-up Nicholas Cork "rammed" the owner who stood in front of the Vauxhall Astra to stop it being driven away, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
One witness told the trial that Cork pulled away as if starting a race – and another said owner Geoffrey Hazeldene held on for about 100 yards.
Mr Hazeldene, aged 59, was then flung from the car as it turned sharply, a jury was told.
The electrician was left in hospital for three months with severe brain injuries and is now unable to care for himself.
Cork, 32, denies inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Hazeldene with intent in Pennycross in August last year.
He has admitted causing grievous bodily harm without intent, aggravated vehicle taking and driving without insurance.
The jury heard how Cork had gone through red lights at three major junctions at speeds of up to 70mph just after 7am on August 9 last year.
Andrew Maitland, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Cork had made no attempt to stop following the collision with Mr Hazeldene – instead he had accelerated away "causing him to hold on".
He said in opening the trial to the jury that one witness described the Astra "ramming" its owner.
Mr Maitland added: "To pull off at all with someone on your bonnet is dangerous, to go on without stopping is even more dangerous and to do it at speed raises the danger considerably.
"Then to take a sharp turn in the way it was taken raises the stakes of danger even more. These were all decisions the defendant took in stealing the car.
"It was inevitable what was going to happen, wasn't it?"
He added Mr Hazeldene was left seriously injured near the junction of Melrose Avenue and Arden Grove as Cork drove away.
Mr Maitland said: "He suffered a fractured skull and bleeding under the skull on top of the brain. There were signs of some bleeding in the brain.
"He broke all the ribs on the right side, fractured his collar bone and had a grazed knee and elbow. He was in hospital until November 15 and returned home unable to care for himself or work."
Mr Maitland said Mr Hazeldene had stopped in Melrose Avenue on the way to his job in the dockyard at about 7am. He added he parked his Astra with two wheels on the pavement and left the engine running.
Mr Maitland said Mr Hazeldene crossed the road to get a newspaper from Melrose Stores.
He added as he crossed back he noticed a man in his car.
Witness Tyler Colwill told the court he was driving to work when he saw Mr Hazeldene cross Melrose Avenue and stand in front of the blue Vauxhall Astra. He said the man was very close if not touching the car when it twice moved forward.
Mr Colwill said he did not see whether there was contact but the man stumbled back each time.
He added the car then pulled away and the man "ended up on the bonnet".
Mr Colwill said: "It pulled away as if you were starting a race, as if you were trying to get away as quickly as you can. It was over in the click of your fingers."
Kelly Scrivener, for Cork, asked whether the car had "shuddered" forward as if it had been stalled for the initial two movements.
Mr Colwill said: "No, it was like a warning sign, as if to say, I am going to move."
Michael Witcher, who lives nearby, said he opened his curtains that morning to hear someone swear and say "Don't steal my car."
He added he also saw Mr Hazeldene stand in front of the Astra, which moved slowly forward. But then he did not see anything until he found the electrician lying unconscious in the road around the corner in Arden Grove about 100 yards away.
Miss Scrivener said that in his original statement he had seen Mr Hazeldene jump on to the bonnet.
But Mr Witcher said that was an assumption he made at the time.
The jury heard a statement from Mr Hazeldene saying he tried to stop a man stealing his car but could not remember any details after suffering serious head injuries.
Mr Maitland heard several statements from drivers who saw the Vauxhall Astra drive through red lights at Honicknowle Lane, Derriford Roundabout and the George Junction.
Two drivers estimated the car was going at 60mph or 70mph.
The jury was also read transcripts from Cork's two police interviews. He said: "I heard the engine running. I started driving off and some bloke just jumped on the bonnet."
Cork, of Holman Court in Pennycross, said he slowed down and Mr Hazeldene fell off.
He added he "panicked" and drove away, but could not remember much about his driving after taking 15 Valium tablets the night before.
Cork said he abandoned the car in Leigham and was "devastated" when he heard how badly Mr Hazeldene was hurt.
He told police: "I didn't mean him any harm, I just wanted to nick his car, that was it."
The trial continues.