West Kingsdown: Petrol Teenager Jailed

A teenager has been sentenced to 11 years in prison after he deliberately drove a car into the manager of a West Kingsdown service station and left him suffering multiple skull fractures.

Joshua Charnley, of no fixed abode, was jailed at Canterbury Crown court on 31 January after the victim was flung onto the bonnet of Charnley’s car, after he had tried to stop him stealing fuel.

His Honour Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl said that turning a vehicle into a weapon could be catastrophic, after the 19 year-old was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent at an earlier hearing.

Charnley and his girlfriend were traveling in a Hyundai Accent which entered the Texaco service station in London Road, on 31 July last year.

The registration number of the car had been altered by Charnley, who used black tape to make the plate read a different number. After Charnley’s girlfriend filled the vehicle with £39 worth of fuel the victim, then 58 years-old, approached the pair to stop them leaving and stood in front of the car.

Charnley revved the engine and lurched forward, before the victim was forced onto the bonnet of the car as he drove off. The victim was then carried on the bonnet for almost half a mile before he was thrown from the car and struck his head on the tarmac. 

Having left the man injured at the side of the road, Charnley drove off, later removing the tape from the registration plate and selling the car. The victim suffered serious injuries including a fractured skull and liver damage.

Following an investigation by officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, Charnley was arrested in the early hours of 2 August in Chatham.

He admitted causing serious injury by driving dangerously but had denied the more serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, however he was found guilty by a jury of GBH with intent.

He was sentenced to 11 years for the offence of grievous bodily harm with intent, and a further year – to be served concurrently – for theft of the petrol. He was also disqualified from driving for 15 years.

Prosecutor Martin Yale said that the effects on the victim and the prospect of him returning to a normal life seem very limited.

Leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Jon Clayden said: "Charnley’s reckless and selfish actions have had a devastating effect on the victim as well as his family.

"Charnley made no attempt whatsoever to stop his vehicle and he carried his victim on a terrifying ride for almost half a mile. He could have slowed and stopped at any time and allowed the victim to get off the car.

"Instead he carried on and chose to turn left into a side road when the consequences, in terms of the victim being thrown from the car, were obvious to anyone. He showed total disregard for the victim and drove off leaving him very seriously injured. Not content with that he set about trying to cover his tracks by selling his car. He has demonstrated no remorse whatsoever.

"What started out as a mission to steal fuel soon turned into something much more serious. Charnley was in control of his actions and made some very poor decisions. He will have time now to reflect on those decisions. I remain hopeful that the victim will make a recovery that will enable him and his family to return to a more normal life."

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