When a man tried to stop burglars escaping with his neighbour’s £25,000 Audi, the get-away driver headed straight at him, knocking him onto the bonnet and then to the ground.
Luckily, Andrew Oliver escaped with only minor injuries following his brave attempt to stop burglar Daniel Marshall – who was caught and arrested shortly afterwards.
But at Warwick Crown Court, Marshall (35) of Bruce Road, Coventry, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to the burglary, theft and dangerous driving.
Prosecutor Stuart Clarkson said that on September 5 Stuart Boyle was at work when he had a call to say that his Audi A6 Estate, worth around £25,000, had been taken from the drive.
He went home and found that the front door of the house in Othello Avenue in Warwick Gates, was locked, but that a side door, which had been closed but unlocked because his teenage children were at home, was open.
His car key was where he had left it, but he then found that a spare key had been taken from a cabinet in the kitchen.
Earlier one of his neighbours, Mr Oliver, had been called by his wife, who was at home with their son, after there had been a knock on their door and suspicious activity in the street.
He got home just in time to see two men getting into Mr Boyle’s car, so got out of his car and stood in front of the Audi in a bid to stop them getting away with it.
“That caused the passenger to get out and run off. But the driver, the defendant, did not,” said Mr Clarkson.
He carried on driving, and hit Mr Oliver who was knocked up onto the bonnet before falling off as Marshall drove away.
Still determined to try to prevent Marshall escaping with the Audi, Mr Oliver, who fortunately suffered only bruising to his knees, back and elbow, got back into his own car to follow it.
By then the police had been called, and Marshall, who had a number of convictions, but none for burglary, was stopped and arrested not far away, added Mr Clarkson.
Recorder Anthony Lowe commented: “The dangerous driving is potentially the more serious matter. He drove directly at someone to get away.
“The public may be surprised that a car used as a weapon, when charged as dangerous driving, has a rather limited sentence. It could have been charged as attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.”
Mr Boyle told the court his 14-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son were upstairs at home at the time, and ‘I worry what would have happened if one of them had disturbed the burglars.’
He said he and his family no longer feel Warwick Gates is a safe place to live, and they do not enjoy being in the garden in case someone is breaking in while they are there.
And of his car, he said it was his first Audi, but that he will now avoid what he considers to be premium makes because he fears they are a target for burglars.
Jamie Strong, defending, said Marshall, who has mental health problems, does not offend when he takes his medication – but he reaches a point where he feels well enough to stop ‘and things take a turn for the worse.’
He said Marshall maintains he did not enter the house himself, and once in the car he was ‘trying to move someone out of the way’ rather than to injure them.
But he conceded: “It is by good fortune, rather than by design, that the person didn’t receive more significant injury.”
Marshall was jailed for 16 months for the burglary, with a consecutive eight-month sentence for dangerous driving, and was disqualified for two years, after which he will have to take an extended test to get his licence back.
Recorder Lowe told him: “You know what your problems are, and that the medication is there to prevent those problems causing you additional problems.
“But the public, when confronted by someone like you committing a burglary do not have the opportunity to know about those problems - and in this burglary, people were present.
“You then went on to commit what is, in many respects, the more serious offence. We read from time to time of situations like that which result in fatalities.
“It is pure luck whether we end up with bruises and grazes, or whether we end up with a dead body in a mortuary.”