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Thief Joshua Charnley’s driving ban slashed in half after dragging West Kingsdown Texaco manager Lekshmanan Asokkumar on bonnet

By KentOnline reporter

A teenage tearaway who ran down and gravely injured a brave petrol station manager to try to avoid paying his bill has had his driving ban nearly halved by top judges.

Joshua Charnley cannoned into Lekshmanan Asokkumar as the manager tried to stop him leaving West Kingsdown's Texaco petrol station in last July.

Brave Mr Asokkumar stood his ground and tried to stop Charnley, but he scooped him onto his bonnet and left him clinging on as he sped away.

Driver Joshua Charnley was jailed for 11 years

Judge Deborah Taylor told London's Appeal Court: "Severe injury was caused by him driving the car at the victim as Mr Asokkumar was seeking to prevent Charnley leaving the garage without paying for petrol.

"The victim was forced on to the bonnet of the car and Charnley drove for half a mile, swerving from side to side."

At one point, Charnley even leant out of the window to try to force the station manager to release his grip.

Mr Asokkumar, from Lamberhurst, toppled into the road - suffering skull fractures.

Charnley, now 20 and of no known address, was detained for 11 years at Maidstone Crown Court in January after he was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He was also banned from driving for 15 years.

Texaco garage worker Lekshmanan Asokkumar dragged along on a car in West Kingsdown

At his trial, the jury heard he had changed the car's number plates with black tape and had no driving licence or insurance.

But Charnley's case reached the Appeal Court as he challenged both his sentence and the length of his driving ban – and judges decided the length of his ban was excessive.

Judge Taylor, sitting with Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice William Davis, said Charnley had used the car like a weapon, and had caused Mr Asokkumar "severe and traumatic brain injuries".

"We cannot see that 11 years is manifestly excessive given the circumstances of the case," she said.

However, she went on to slash Charnley's driving disqualification to eight years.

Victim Lekshmanan Asokkumar with wife Judie outside the Texaco garage

The original 15-year ban was excessive given Charnley's youth and his need for "rehabilitation" on release, the judge ruled.

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