Theft victim drove car into offender, Crown alleges

A Christchurch man has told a jury he had no idea he had driven his car into the man who had just stolen the wheel of his bicycle, breaking his leg.

Forty-six-year-old Wayne Scothern said he just wanted to block the thief’s escape route and get his wheel back.

The Crown says he rammed his four-wheel drive Toyoto Hilux into the victim as he straddled a bicycle on the footpath on Manchester Street, and shoved him into the bus shelter behind him.

Crown prosecutor Deidre Orchard said he must have known there had been an impact with the 38-year-old homeless man who had his wheel, causing a compound fracture of his leg, damaging his bike, damaging his own car, and kinking the bus shelter.

The jury has repeatedly seen surveillance camera footage of the crash, from the camera that was operating at the Manchester-Salisbury Street corner about lunch time on May 1.

Scothern gave evidence at the Christchurch District Court trial, which is expected to last three days, but he said he thought the impact he felt was the Toyota’s rear wheels going up on the kerb.

Scothern, an arborist, denies the charge of wounding with reckless disregard for safety.

The victim was admitted to Christchurch Hospital with a bone protruding from his left leg, and a 20cm open wound. His tibia had splintered and he had to have a titanium pin inserted down the bone and screwed into place.

Scothern’s partner, who was a passenger in the car, grabbed the wheel back and they drove off. Scothern told the jury he realised along the road that there had been damage to his car because he heard the left front wheel scraping against the bodywork when he turned left.

Cross-examined, he said he did not know why he had not mentioned that when he was interviewed by the police – an interview that was recorded on DVD and played to the trial.

Scothern said that after the incident he was “more interested in reversing my vehicle and getting my wheel back. I didn’t see he was injured”.

The victim was left propped against an upright of the bus shelter, where he had been rammed, as the car drove away. He was quickly attended by members of the public who called an ambulance and took the number of the car as it drove off.

Defence counsel Simon Shamy told the trial that Scothern had wanted to block the victim from getting away and did not mean to hurt him. “He didn’t see any risk of hurting him. He simply wanted to get his wheel back.”

Scothern told the trial that while he was at his home in a block of flats in Salisbury Street, central Christchurch, he saw a stranger in a black hoodie around the flats. He thought he looked “a bit shady”, and soon after that his partner pointed out that the wheel of his bicycle had been stolen.

He decided that they would go driving and see if they could find him. They saw him near the bus shelter in Manchester Street.

Scothern drove through a red light, turned left and drove up onto the footpath. “My intention was to stop him, to cut him off and block his escape route.”

After that happened, he could hear the man calling out, “Sorry, sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Cross-examined, he said: “I went to cut him off. I may have misjudged the turning.”

The trial, before Judge Jane Farish and a jury, may finish on Wednesday.

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