A SCRAP metal thief who left a man seriously injured when he drove his van at him while trying to make a quick getaway has been spared jail.
Kane Chappell, 21, ploughed into Walter Robinson, 60, in a Ford Transit van after he was caught stealing piping from SR Recycling at Barnsley’s Oakwell Business Centre.
Walter suffered three broken ribs, leg injuries, and cuts and bruising to his head and back as he tried to stop Chappell fleeing.
Judge Michael Murphy QC called the incident ‘a serious piece of bad driving’, but said jail would be a ‘devastating’ experience for Chappell.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Walter caught Chappell and two accomplices trying to steal scrap last July. David Webster, prosecuting, said Walter tried to block Chappell’s path by parking his van in front of the thief’s, but Chappell simply sped around it and across the car park.
Walter chased after Chappell with his son Simon Robinson, who pursued him in a VW Transporter.
“He caused Simon to brake and swerve before ploughing into Mr Robinson senior,” Mr Webster said.
Chappell, of Snape Hill Road, Darfield, clipped Walter with his wing mirror, throwing him onto the bonnet and smashing the windscreen.
Chappell, who has previous convictions for assault and threatening behaviour, initially drove away, but then reversed and went back to the scene. Mr Webster added the accomplices had all fled.
Robert Sandford, defending, said: “A generation ago Kane Chappell would have most likely found employment in a colliery but, since the demise of the coal industry and since leaving school, he’s never really had a proper job. He does have his limitations.”
Chappell takes medication for depression and has tried to self-harm, the court heard.
His ‘on-off’ girlfriend is due to give birth to his first child in October, and he risked losing his rented home if sent to prison.
Judge Murphy told Chappell: “What happened was inexcusable. Your intention was to get out of the way.”
Chappell was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment suspended for a year, with 150 hours’ unpaid work and 12 months’ supervision.
He was banned from driving for a year and given a year’s conditional discharge for theft.
Jurors unanimously convicted him of causing bodily harm ‘by wanton and furious driving’ following a trial.
The unusual charge, which dates back to the 1800s, was used as prosecutors couldn’t prove the business centre car park was a road or public place, required for the offence of dangerous driving.