Landscape gardener jailed for four years for 'mowing down' two teenagers that were camping in a field


A landscape gardener who drove his van into two teenagers who were camping in a field in what was an "absolutely terrifying" attack has been jailed for four years.

Benjamin Allerton, 25, told the pair: "You've got five seconds to run". He then flattened their tent and ploughed into the 16-year-old boy and girl, 13, as they fled.

Allerton, of Selby, North Yorkshire, plotted the alcohol-fuelled attack in retaliation, after he got into an argument with their friends, York Crown Court was told.

He had approached the group of youths, who were drinking and camping in a field in the nearby village of Barlby, and joined their party. But things turned sour when he tried to put his arm around a 13-year-old girl, Andrew Dallas, prosecuting, told the court.

He was asked to leave and was punched in the face, then shoved into his van. He returned less than an hour later, aimed his vehicle at the makeshift campsite and gave the teenagers a five-second countdown before he drove at them.

"He admitted that his intention was to injure them," Mr Dallas said.

Allerton careered across the field several times, flattening a tent and hitting the boy and girl as they fled. He ran over the boy's arm and shoulder, fracturing them, and clipped the girl, who was not badly hurt, the court heard.

The boy spent three days in hospital and had two operations to put a metal plate and screws in his arm. The girl was traumatised and still suffers flashbacks.

Allerton was initially charged with two counts of attempted murder which he denied. When his sentencing hearing began, he admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and the original charges were dropped.

Damian Nolan, defending, told the court that Allerton's behaviour changed after he was assaulted in 2009 and he has suffered post-concussion disorder which can affect mood and aggression.

"His family has been consistent in saying there has been a sea-change in his behaviour since that assault," Mr Nolan said.

The altercation with one of the teenagers in the field, in which Allerton was punched to the floor, was a "trigger point".

The defendant is a reliable father-of-two and a stepfather who deserves credit for his previous good character and guilty pleas, he said.

Telling Allerton that a prison sentence was inevitable, Judge Michael Mettyear said: "You drove round deliberately seeking out those you could catch in an open field and you struck two people. It was good luck, not judgment, that the injuries were not worse."

Allerton's post-concussion disorder may have played a part in the attack, the judge said, but added: "In my judgment, it was the alcohol-fuelled anger that was the much more immediate cause."

He gave Allerton credit for his guilty plea, jailing him for four years and imposing an 18-month driving ban which begins immediately.

"You are a young man of previous good character. I read each and every reference put in on your behalf. They all speak of you in affectionate, indeed glowing terms. It is very sad to see someone like you in a dock in a Crown Court. It's especially true when you are charged with such a serious offence and face the inevitability of a custodial sentence.

"I pass such a sentence on you with no pleasure at all."

After the hearing, Detective Sergeant Mandy Grundy, of North Yorkshire Police, said in a statement: "What began as a fun, camping adventure for the teenagers turned into a terrifying nightmare during which they were in fear for their lives.

"Allerton used his vehicle as a weapon to cause serious injuries, and it goes without saying that the consequences could have been much worse.

"The sentence reflects the seriousness of the incident and Allerton now has ample time to reflect on what he has done."