'Laughing thief ran woman down with her car'

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A mother was run over and dragged up to 65ft (20m) by her own car after a laughing thief leapt behind the wheel and mowed her down, a court heard today.

Caroline Johnson, 46, was scraping ice from the windscreen of her Citroen Picasso on a cold morning last December when Kevin Richardson and his accomplice, Karen Napper, spotted the vehicle with its key in the ignition.

Seizing his opportunity, Richardson jumped into the car, revved the engine and sped forwards, leaving Mrs Johnson in a "critical" condition, lying on the road.

The court heard that the mother, who is still in a wheelchair and receiving treatment for her injuries, had been preparing to take her son to school on the frosty morning of December 2.

Shortly before 8am, she left her home in Humber Way, Langley, Berkshire, to warm up and de-ice the gold-coloured Picasso which she kept parked in the road outside her house.

"That, of course, meant the car key was in the ignition," Charles Ward-Jackson, prosecuting, told jurors.

"She had started the process of de-icing the windscreen. She was using an ice scraper.

"She had done the front windscreen and moved around it to the driver's side. She was standing by the front door of the car when two people walked up - a black male and a white female, the prosecution says these two defendants."

Richardson, he said, pushed Mrs Johnson out of the way and got into the driver's seat.

Meanwhile his co-defendant, Napper, 37, climbed into the front passenger seat.

"Mrs Johnson told them to get out of the car. They laughed at her," Mr Ward-Jackson said.

Jurors heard that Mrs Johnson moved in front of the Picasso and leaned over the bonnet to stop the pair driving away.

But her efforts were to no avail and Richardson, 34, accelerated, driving over her.

Mrs Johnson, who became caught under the vehicle, was dragged along the road for some 65ft (20m).

Her heart briefly stopped beating during her ordeal, Reading Crown Court heard.

She was found lying on the tarmac at around 8am and was taken to Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, Berkshire, where she was placed in intensive care.

She was given a blood transfusion and treated for cardiac arrest, a fractured pelvis, an open fracture to the right femur, fractures to both ankles and fractured ribs.

She remained in hospital for two months, when she was also treated for fractures to both her shoulders and underwent skin grafting.

Richardson was arrested on December 9 when officers spotted him riding a bicycle.

Interviewed by police, he claimed not to remember where he had been on the morning of December 2 but insisted he had nothing to do with the events of that day.

Nearly five months later, on May 1, police arrested Napper, who also denied any knowledge of the crime.

But prosecutors claim a hair found in the Picasso linked her to the scene.

She was arrested again on May 14, this time admitting that the pair had discovered the car with its engine running, after they had been out all night in search of drugs.

She told officers they had "clipped" Mrs Johnson as they left the scene, Mr Ward-Jackson said.

He told jurors a motorist had later come forward to say she had seen the driver - a black male - arguing with a female passenger.

Other witnesses claimed to have spotted the car "on the wrong side of the road", being driven "in a very aggressive manner" and "at speed", he said.

The car was also described as "swaying" from side to side - an attempt, prosecutors say, to shake off the body being dragged underneath it.

Richardson, formally of Chalvey Road East, Slough, has already pleaded guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm, one count of aggravated vehicle-taking and one count of dangerous driving. He denies another charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Napper, of Ledgers Road, Slough, denies one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, one count of grievous bodily harm and one count of aggravated vehicle-taking.