Sentence reduced for motorist who mowed down Darlington pedestrian in high speed chase after dogging site mix-up (From The Northern Echo)
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Sentence reduced for motorist who mowed down Darlington pedestrian in high speed chase after dogging site mix-up
A DANGEROUS driver who left his victim so badly hurt he wished he was dead, has had his prison sentence halved on appeal.
Stephen Lewis, 51, of Blackbush Walk, Thornaby was sentenced to 12-months in prison for knocking down 64-year-old John Cawston during a high speed chase through Darlington last October.
At the Court of Appeal today (Wednesday, October 23) judges reduced Lewis’s sentence to six-months after agreeing that the driver chasing him, 21-year-old Liam Berry, was more responsible for Mr Cawston’s injuries.
Lewis will serve only half that sentence before automatic release into the community on licence and since he has been jailed since July, he will be free by the beginning of next week at the latest.
The appeal judges heard that the seven-mile chase which resulted in Mr Cawston being knocked down began after a dispute at a Darlington layby known for dogging – a place where strangers meet for sex.
Lewis had gone to the dogging site where Berry was parked in a Transit van with two passengers and, thinking that he had received an invite, followed them when Berry drove away.
Once the vehicles had stopped in another layby, Berry's male passenger got out and approached Lewis's van, brandishing a weapon made from a pool cue and threatening violence.
Lewis sped away and the ensuing vehicle chase ended when Mr Cawston was struck on High Northgate just yards away from his front door.
At today’s (Wednesday, October 23) appeal, Duncan McReddie, representing Lewis, argued that it was wrong to impose the same sentences on both men because Lewis only drove dangerously because he believed he was in danger.
Lord Justice Treacy, Mr Justice Burnett and Mrs Justice Swift accepted the appeal and Mr Justice Burnett said: "The appellant had been threatened with a nasty weapon in circumstances where he reasonably believed that he had been enticed to a remote spot for the purpose of a good beating and those who were responsible were chasing him.
"This was far from an easy case to sentence.
"The course of driving was very bad and had exposed many road users to risk.
"Mr Cawston was very seriously injured, which, in the context of dangerous driving, is an aggravating feature.
"Even though it was Lewis who collided with the pedestrian, we consider that the co-accused, Berry, was significantly more culpable for what occurred.
"He precipitated the events in circumstances where Lewis was genuinely afraid for his safety.”
Justice Burnett added that the “extraordinary circumstances” called for a significant difference between the sentences for each offender.
Speaking in July after the original court case, Mr Cawston described how the accident had left him virtually housebound and wishing he was dead.