Man Detained After Car Attack

A man's been sentenced to three years' detention after he deliberately drove into a group of men in Rickmansworth leaving one victim with brain damage.

The angry barman who accused a group of Scotsmen of staring at his girlfriend's bottom was sentenced to 3 years' detention and banned from driving for 10 years after his car hit one of them, causing lasting brain damage.

Nathan Rutter, then 19, was "blind with rage", having been knocked to the ground in a row with the men from Aberdeen outside a kebab shop.

He drove his black Astra, with loud music playing, up the wrong side of Uxbridge Road in Rickmansworth, Herts before mounting the pavement for 32 metres at what the prosecution said was between 30 and 40 miles per hour.

Rutter, now 20, of Longlees in Maple Cross in Rickmansworth, told the jury at St Albans crown court he had only meant to scare the men and was driving at 20mph. His car clipped Michael Wilson before striking accountant Michael Robb, 27,  who was knocked unconscious as his head cracked the windscreen.

He pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of Michael Robb and an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. The jury of 8 men and 4 women cleared him of both counts. He had pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Mr Robb suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. Blood clots had to be relieved by a craniotomy.  He was taken to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London for 8 days before being transferred to St Andrew's Royal Infirmary in Aberdeen, where he was kept for 3 weeks. After that he was treated there for slurred speech and was given therapy to help him walk and build up his strength at a specialist centre. He has suffered memory problems, his spelling has deteriorated and he has lost 70 per cent of the hearing in his right ear and suffers from tinnitus.

Witness Matthew Smith said he had come out of an Indian Restaurant opposite the Kebab Centre and saw Rutter, with his top removed, being calmed down by a girl.

Mr Smith said he and his friends walked along Uxbridge Road following Mr Robb's group, but on the other side of the road. "They were 30 yards ahead. I saw a car change direction from the left side to the right side of the road and mount the pavement.

"It proceeded down at a fair speed and struck one of the group. That person hit the front of the car and rolled off to the right hand side. He was struck from behind. I heard a hard thud. The vehicle continued to drive on."

The victim and his three friends had travelled down to watch the football match between Watford and Leeds on 4 May this year. They had been drinking in Watford town centre before going on to a bar in Rickmansworth, where they were staying.

Prosecutor Michael Speak said Mr Robb can remember nothing about what happened after playing pool in Rickmansworth. He told the jury of 8 men and 4 women that the collision happened near a bus shelter just after midnight on 5 May.

"He hit Mr Robb squarely and that resulted in him sustaining brain injuries which have had an enduring effect on him."

Just before the collision, Rutter and his girlfriend Teresa Allen had been in the nearby Kebab Centre where "fisticuffs" broke out with Mr Robb's group.

Mr Speak said that after a member of staff broke up the scuffle, the group of four thought the whole business had finished. "However as far as the defendant was concerned the incident was far from over. He was clearly almost blind with rage. He jumped in his car and drove up the road at those people at a speed in excess of 30 miles per hour, but less than 40. Mr Robb went onto the bonnet of the car. His head hit the windscreen with some considerable force."

A woman was heard to shout at the group.

Rutter said he had left his job at the White Horse Pub in Chorleywood early that night because he was angry with the chef. He picked up his girlfriend from a party in Bovingdon where he drank two Jack Daniels and coke and they went to the Kebab Centre. She went inside first while he urinated outside. When he walked in he heard one of a group of four say: "No she's got a boyfriend."

He replied: "Yeah too right. She's got a boyfriend." He went on: "As we went to walk out. One stared at her arse. I said: 'Yes I am her boyfriend.'"

Outside the shop punches were thrown and Rutter's shirt was ripped. He was hit above his right eye and stumbled to the ground. The trouble was broken up by a shop worker.

Rutter was given a cigarette to calm down and after that drove off with his girlfriend. He said: "The lads were walking the way I had to go home. I was still really wound up. I had my music on. I just came past to scare them. I didn't mean to hit any of them."

Michael Wilson, one of Michael Robb's friends, told the jury they were staying in Rickmansworth for the Watford against Leeds match on 4 May. He said they had been to the 12.45 kick off at Vicarage Road before having a drink in Revolution bar in Watford High Street, before returning by taxi to Rickmansworth at about a quarter past five. They went to bars in Rickmansworth and then to the Kebab Centre. They stayed there for an hour eating their food and watching highlights of the Watford  - Leeds match on the TV.

He said: "A girl came into the shop. Michael Robb said something to her and she might have taken offence. She said something back. Shortly after that, a gentleman came in and words were exchanged between Michael and him. We all went to leave. They walked through us and I got barged."

Outside the shop he saw an altercation. "There was a little bit of pushing and shoving. There wasn't anything serious," he said.

As he and the three others walked off he said everything was fine until the car came up from behind and clipped his left elbow and hip before striking Mr Robb.

He said: "I took half a step to my right. I was on the pavement. I turned to my right. Michael Robb was a yard or two to the front of me. I was clipped by the right hand side of the car. It was on the pavement."

"I never saw the driver's face. I think it was the gentleman we had the altercation with at the kebab shop."

"After clipping me, it hit Michael. He had his back to the car.  It was the front of the car that hit him from behind. He hadn't a chance to see it."

"Michael was flung into the air. He went onto the bonnet.  He was lifeless. The car veered to the left and went back onto the road." One of the others called for an ambulance.

Questioned by Tim Clarke, defending, he agreed they had been drinking quite heavily and were quite drunk in the kebab shop.

Mr Clark said: "Your group shouted abuse at the defendant. You said 'We are from Glasgow."

Mr Wilson replied: "We wouldn't say that, we are from Aberdeen."

Sentencing Rutter, Judge Marie Catterson said: "At the Kebab Centre there had been a relatively minor altercation. The four Scotsman had come to watch Watford play football. You perceived one or more of them to be ogling your girlfriend. You fell to the ground and were split up. That should have been the end of it."

She went on: "You were given a cigarette to calm down and you drove off with your girlfriend. You spotted the four Scotsmen who were walking the way you were going. You deliberately crossed to the wrong side of the road. Two men managed to leap out of the way, the third suffered a minor injury. Michael Robb was hit from behind. His head cracked the windscreen and he rolled off to the ground unconscious and bleeding from the head.

"This is close to being one of the worst imaginable cases of causing serious injury by dangerous driving."