A WITNESS to a botched West Kingsdown petrol station robbery which saw the manager carried for half a mile on a car bonnet has spoken out after the teenage perpetrator was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Martin Churchill, 53, was paying for petrol at the Texaco garage in London Road, West Kingsdown, at around 2.15pm on July 31 when he heard an engine "screaming" at high revs.
Joshua Charnley, 19, was trying to make off without paying for £37 worth of fuel but garage manager Lekshmanan Asokkumar had got wise to him and was standing in front of the teenager’s black saloon car.
Seconds later, CCTV footgae showed Charnley scooping the 58-year-old up on his bonnet and racing off down London Road at a speed of more than 30mph.
It wasn’t until half a mile later that Mr Asokkumar was thrown to the ground after his attacker made a sharp left on Hever Avenue, leaving him with life-threatening head injuries.
Charnley, of no fixed address, was found guilty on January 28 at Canterbury Crown Court of causing grievous bodily harm with intent after previously pleading guilty to making off from the petrol station without paying.
Joshua Charnley has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
He had confessed to causing serious injury by driving dangerously but denied the more serious charge of GBH. Following Charnley’s sentencing on Friday, Mr Churchill, who gave evidence during the trial, told News Shopper: "Every time I go in there and fill up with petrol I think about it.
"At any point he could have stopped, pulled over, slowed down and the guy would probably have slid off.
"He’ll come out still a relatively young man but the poor old petrol station manager will still be living with this.
"That is the real tragedy - Mr Asokkumar has got a life sentence."
Crown advocate Martin Yale from the south east Crown Prosecution Service said: "The petrol station attendant had been unable to see the car licence plate, which had been altered with black tape to disguise its identity, so Mr Asokkumar tried to stop Mr Charnley by standing in front of the car.
The spot where the victim was thrown from Charnley's bonnet.
"Instead of stopping, Mr Charnley drove at Mr Asokkumar, scooped him on to the bonnet and drove off along London Road, swerving the vehicle and punching Mr Asokkumar’s hand through the open driver’s door window as Mr Asokkumar clung to the front of the car.
"He has been receiving treatment for the injuries he suffered, which are likely to be permanent and which significantly impact on his life and those of his family."
Charnley was sentenced to 11 years for causing grievous bodily harm with intent and another 12 months, to run concurrently, for making off from the petrol station without paying.
He was also disqualified from driving for 15 years.
Read all News Shopper's coverage of the crime here.
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