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Home Dartford News Article
A teenager who stole petrol and then drove his car at a West Kingsdown service station manager has been jailed for 11 years today.
Friends and family of 19-year-old Joshua Charnley burst into tears and fled the public gallery screaming - causing the judge to halt his sentencing remarks until they had left.
Victim Lekshmanan Asokkumar's wife Judie, from Lamberhurst, today spoke of how their lives have been "destroyed" by the ordeal.
Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl told the teenager he had used his car as a weapon in the incident last year - which had left his victim still suffering from his injuries.
Part-time painter and decorator Charnley, from Hartley, had been spotted attempting to leave the station forecourt without paying.
Courageous Mr Asokkumar stood in front of Charnley's vehicle to prevent him escaping.
But the thug revved his car and drove it at the terrified manager, scooping him up onto the bonnet before taking him on a terrifying journey for nearly half-a-mile - until his victim was flung into the road.
Mr Asokkumar received severe injuries and is still receiving treatment, Canterbury Crown Court heard.
Charnley had admitted causing serious injury by driving dangerously, but denied the more serious charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
But the jury took nearly nine hours before convicting him of the more serious offence and he was given an 11-year jail sentence - and banned from driving for 15 years.
Mrs Asokkumar relived the moment she walked into a "nightmare" on July 31 last year.
"At the moment, he's very suppressed, very quiet, his whole character has changed - he's just not the man I married..." - wife Judie Asokkumar
She said: "I got the phone call to say what had happened and I rushed up there to find the road closed, police everywhere and the air ambulance. It was like walking into a nightmare.
"We went to the hospital and doctors just said he'd got a very bad head injury and the next 48 hours were critical.
"Things got progressively worse so they had to do a major operation to save his life.
"For the first four or five weeks we didn't know if he was going to survive or not.
"It just didn't seem possible that someone could do that and travel so far before he threw him off the bonnet.
"He can't work at the moment and may never be able to work again. We just don't know what he'll be capable of - it's completely destroyed our lives.
"At the moment, he's very suppressed, very quiet, his whole character has changed - he's just not the man I married."
Mrs Asokkumar spoke of her frustration at Charnley's sentence - and said she and her husband have been left to pick up the pieces.
She added: "He'll serve his sentence and then continue the rest of his normal life whereas we're left to pick up the pieces.
"In two minutes, everything changed. He should never have driven up the road with him on the bonnet - he obviously just didn't care.
"I'd like to know why he did it - why do that to somebody else for no reason? He was at fault by stealing the petrol, why make it worse by doing that to my husband?"
Prosecutor Martin Yale told how the incident happened on July 31 last year when Mr Asokkumar and Kim Waterman were working at the Texaco Service Station in London Road.
"Ms Waterman's attention was drawn to a woman filling a car at the pumps nearest the road," he said.
"The man was still sitting in the driver's seat - that was Joshua Charnley. It was always his intention to make off without paying for petrol as he had no money to do so.
"He had also altered the number plates of his car with black tape in order to disguise the vehicle's identity.
"Ms Waterman mentioned to her colleague about not being able to see the registration of the car and Mr Asokkumar walked out of the shop.
"Mr Asokummar stood in front of the car and put his hands up. Charnley revved the engine and lurched the car forward on more than one occasion in an attempt to intimidate Mr Asokkumar."
"The car hit him, lifting onto the bonnet and Charnley then continued down the road at 30 mph with Mr Asokkumar clinging to the car.
"As the car continued up the road, one eye witness described Charnley punching Mr Asokkumar's hands through the open window, while the car swerved from side to side."
The car turned at speed into Hever Avenue and Mr Asokkumar was thrown clear - sustaining serious head injuries and he was taken by air ambulance to hospital.
Mr Yale added: "Charnley used his car as a weapon as he made off from the petrol station without paying for petrol.
"He then drove his car into Mr Asokkumar, scooping him up onto the bonnet and travelling nearly half a mile with the retail manager clinging on."
The prosecutor said the manager was later treated for a fractured skull and liver damage and some of his injuries are likely to be permanent.
Mr Ashokkumar is still being treated at a rehabilitation centre, having occupational and physiotherapy.
He only comes home once a fortnight and medics believe he will be there for the next three months.
Charnley - who is the second eldest in a family of seven children - claimed he just panicked and drove away not intending to drive at Mr Asokkumar.
Alexia Zimbler, defending, said Charnley's family had moved from New Ash Green to Hartley because the youngster had got himself involved in robbery, taking petrol without paying, causing criminal damage and shop-lifting.
Judge Van Der Bijl said driving cars is dangerous... but when they are turned into weapons the "results can be catastrophic".
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