A motorist has been convicted of breaking a man’s leg in two places by driving a car backwards and forwards over him.
But Lee Prebble was not in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court on Monday when the jury found him guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm by a 10-2 majority.
They were only told after delivering their verdicts - Prebble was unanimously cleared of three other offences - that he was in hospital having taken an overdose of paracetamol, anti-depressants and vodka.
Before retiring to deliberate, the jury had simply been told by Recorder Tom Forster that he was ill and his absence should not be held against him.
Prebble, formerly of Wallis Place, Hart Street, Maidstone, denied causing Brent Hall grievous bodily harm with intent, causing serious injury by dangerous driving and two offences of assaulting Graham Martin and his daughter, Lauren Martin.
During the trial the offence of inflicting GBH was added to the indictment and the jury was formally discharged from reaching a verdict on the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Prebble was found not guilty of causing GBH with intent and both assault charges.
The court heard at the start of the trial that Mr Hall was run over after an argument and scuffle at The Fox pub in Hartnup Street spilled out into the street on February 23 last year.
Prosecutor Peter Walsh said the row between 29-year-old Prebble and Mr Hall escalated “dramatically and violently” once outside.
Prebble was said to have aimed his father’s Audi A4 at a group of people and, after knocking Brent Hall to the ground, drove backwards and forwards over his right leg, breaking it in two places.
It was alleged that Lauren Martin was also assaulted by Prebble when she intervened on an alleged assault on her father.
Mr Walsh told the court Prebble drove at a group of people in front of the car and struck Mr Hall.
“He was seen as he was lying on the ground between the wheel and the wheel arch, being dragged. Then the defendant was reversing and going backwards and forwards over his right leg.”
The court was told other members of the public then “demonstrated rough justice” to Prebble after they tried to get him out of the car.
Mr Hall told the court he had no recollection of what happened to him after he went outside the pub to try to calm people down.
“I remember waking up and the ambulance people around me. I had pain in my right leg,” he said.
“I couldn’t stand or put any weight on it. I have no recollection of how I got in that condition.”
Mr Hall needed surgery to insert two pins into his leg, which was in plaster for eight weeks. He has since made a full recovery.
At the end of the trial the jury heard Prebble has previous convictions for dangerous driving, threatening behaviour and assault causing actual bodily harm.
That offence related to an incident in which a man was punched and kicked in the street.
“He (Brent Hall) was seen as he was lying on the ground between the wheel and the wheel arch, being dragged. Then the defendant was reversing and going backwards and forwards over his right leg" - prosecutor Peter Walsh
Then, as he lay unconscious on the ground, a car in which Prebble was a passenger struck the man’s father, causing him to be thrown 10ft in the air.
The vehicle was then driven towards the man on the ground with a door being opened as if to strike him but fortunately missed.
The court heard that Prebble was not the driver and was not charged in connection with that part of the incident.
It was for that reason that Recorder Forster ruled that the jury could not be told of his ABH conviction during the trial.
Prebble will now be sentenced once he has been discharged from hospital.
Mary Jacobson, defending, said he is currently in the A&E department of Maidstone Hospital awaiting a bed in a specialist psychiatric unit.
She also told the court that he had suffered from depression since the cot death of his eight-month-old baby in August last year and had been living in a caravan “out of the area”, unable to return to the flat where his child died.
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