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Turf farm boss who boasted Downing Street and Wentworth Golf Club among clients 'can't remember' alleged murder bid


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A former turf farm boss has been convicted of trying to murder a neighbour following a long-running feud over an access road.

Charles Wood remained unmoved as the jury brought in its unanimous verdict at Maidstone Crown Court after four hours of deliberation.

Charles Wood driving off after the crash and then inspecting his damage

The 59-year old-claimed he had no recollection of the incident.

Wood had been in an ongoing dispute over access to his home in Sandhurst.

Wood, of Rye Road, Sandhurst, had denied the murderous attempt in March last year.

He was remanded into custody and will be sentenced on December 13.

The jury had been told that it had been just after 1.20pm on March 2 last year that Thomas Robinson, walking along the village on his way to do some shopping, was hit by Wood's van.

The pensioner was thrown into the air and suffered spinal and rib fractures, a bleed on the brain and a bruised aorta.

Mr Robinson spent almost four months in hospital, including treatment at the Stoke Mandeville Rehabilitation Centre.

The VW Transporter then pulled back onto Rye Road and drove off with black smoke billowing from the exhaust.

Prosecutor Paul Valder had told how there had been "something of a feud between the two men over access to Wood's farm".

The moment Wood inspected his damaged van was previously shown to the jury.

Charles Wood
Charles Wood

The 59-year-old told the court: "I have no recollection... but I wouldn't jeopardise travelling, which is what I love to do."

He said he studied agriculture in the US and had 10 Downing Street, Wentworth Golf Club and the Royal Parks among the clients of his turf company.

He also told of buying the land in 1993 and then building a farm in Sandhurst, adding that the land "dated back to Saxon-Roman times."

But the former masseuse says he had to change career in 2019 after falling 17ft from a ladder and being left with headaches.

He told the trial he had no memory of going to visit an osteopath, shopping at Lidl or Sainsbury's, his van hitting neighbour Thomas Robinson, going to the hospital or talking with police officers.

He said: "I can't remember anything. I was not in dispute with my neighbour."

Wood added there had been fall-outs in the past over access over his land - but the last was 2016

"But by 2020 I had nothing to do with the Robinsons. I just minded my own business. I had my own work to do," he said.

His barrister Mark Dacey asked: "Did you wish him ill in any way?"

Wood replied: "No."

In cross-examination Wood claimed CCTV images of him shopping were "strange because I never use a trolley."

Mr Valder asked: "Are you play acting?"

Wood denied it adding: "I have no recollection. It was an accident."

After the incident, Wood asked a friend to take him to hospital where he sat in a wheelchair but despite having a CT scan and an ECG examination nurses could find nothing medically wrong.

The prosecutor asked: "Were you play acting then and pretending to be unwell?"

Rye Road in Sandhurst Picture: Google
Rye Road in Sandhurst Picture: Google

Wood replied: "I can't recall."

Mr Valder told the court at the start of Wood's trial that he and his neighbour had been 'engaged in something of a feud for a number of years'.

He said: "They both lived just outside the village of Sandhurst. The defendant had to access his home via a path that ran beside Mr Robinson's home and it appeared that was the source of the problem between them.

"The prosecution say the defendant deliberately drove onto the pavement at speed and into Mr Robinson, causing him serious injuries.

"We say the defendant, from his actions, must have intended to kill Mr Robinson. The defendant then drove off.

"Mr Robinson, thankfully, survived but spent almost four months recovering from his injuries.

"The defendant was arrested the next day. He accepts he was the driver. He maintains he has no recollection of the incident."

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

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