A DRUNKEN Durham City man who took a taxi after being thrown out of hospital refused to pay the driver and then ran him over.
Jonathan Nattrass left the injured cabbie in the road and then flipped his own car on its roof before he was arrested, Durham Crown Court heard.
“The incident began with a night out in Newcastle,” said prosecutor Gavin Doig.
“The defendant turned up at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in the early hours, but was turned away after police became involved.
“He then booked a taxi to Spennymoor, telling the driver he would be paid on arrival.
“No one came to the door of the house, and after a lot of toing and froing Nattrass got into his Vauxhall Corsa and drove off.”
The court heard the taxi driver signalled to Nattrass to stop, but he didn’t, and he hit the driver as he left the scene.
Mr Doig added: “The driver suffered ankle and rib injuries, and was off work for three weeks.
“Nattrass drove away at speed, crashing his car into some bollards a short distance away. The car landed on its roof.
“A back calculation of his blood alcohol level suggested Nattrass was about twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.”
Nattrass, of Pickering Place, Carrville, admitted dangerous driving, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, making off without payment, driving with excess alcohol, and leaving the scene of an accident, all on September 14 last year.
The 20-year-old was of previous good character.
Jane Waugh, defending, said in mitigation: “He is a hard-working young man who has been able to provide excellent references.
“This incident has brought him up short, and caused him to change the way he lives his life.
“The insurers will pay the claim but seek to recover the money from him, so the financial cost to Mr Nattrass will be about £20,000.”
The Recorder, Mr Ian Atherton, sentenced Nattrass to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, including 150 hours of community work.
“Your guilty plea and positively good character have saved you from immediate prison,” he told Nattrass.
“I’m told the financial cost to you will be great, and you will have to live with a criminal record.”
Nattrass was also banned from driving for 18 months, and he must take an extended test if he wishes to drive after the ban expires.