Jailed: Man who drove at stranger in Sunderland street because he thought it might be 'amusing'

John Nicholson
John Nicholson

A man has been locked up after driving at a stranger in a Sunderland street because he thought it would be 'amusing'.

The victim flew into the air when he was hit by the car while he and his girlfriend were walking along Washington Street.

John Nicholson had shouted at the man, who was a stranger, and then ran to a parked Vauxhall Corsa before driving it along the street for a short distance.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the 23-year-old performed a u-turn, almost colliding with another vehicle, so he was facing the couple.

Andrew Walker, prosecuting, told the court: "He drove the car at the man, mounting the footpath, and drove into him causing him to be flung into the air and leaving him on the ground.

"Thankfully the injuries were less significant than one might have thought."

Mr Walker said the victim had a swollen right temple and many bruises but no fractures.

He said: "The incident left him feeling horrible, depressed. He couldn't go out, go about his day to day life."

The court heard how Nicholson did not intend to hit the victim with the car, only to scare him.

He was arrested the following day and was found to be in possession of cannabis.

Nicholson, of Wilford Square, Sunderland, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and possession of cannabis.

He was on a suspended sentence for aggravated vehicle taking when he committed the offences on March 3.

Jamie Adams, defending, told the court how Nicholson suffered from mental health problems.

He said: "It was real stupidity to have done what he did.

"He's somebody who seems now to be recognising, as he's getting a little bit older, that has difficulties and he has to address his behaviour.

"He's now got stability in his life, that he has got from his relationship with his partner who is expecting his child in January 2017. That was the first thing that came to his mind.

"He says it wasn't his car, it was his friend's car."

Mr Recorder John Aitken sentenced Nicholson to 18 months in prison and banned him from driving for five years.

Recorder Aitken told him: "This is a very serious offence. You are a young man with a poor record both with assaults and driving.

"You were not trying to run this man down, that's very important as that would make these events even more serious.

"I take the view you did it in a grossly stupid way. There was no history or animosity between you and the man.

"You clearly thought it was amusing to try and frighten him but you are a poor driver. You are a disqualified driver.

"I have seen his statement which says he's shocked and frightened by this and that is the natural reaction."