Man who drove into clubbers jailed

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The Independent Online

Shocking CCTV was shown to a court today as a man was jailed indefinitely for ploughing through a crowd outside a nightclub in a stolen car.

Revellers were knocked down like skittles as they fled in terror from Lee Anthony Bradley, 26, as he sped along the pavement in a Saab 93, Bolton Crown Court heard.

Fourteen people - seven women and seven men - were taken to hospital with injuries following the incident last October outside a strip of bars and clubs on Packer Street in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

The court heard it was a "miracle" no one was killed.

Bradley handed himself in to police on November 2 and admitted a string of offences committed in the incident in the early hours of Sunday October 17.

Judge William Morris, Recorder of Bolton, said Bradley, already a convicted killer with a conviction for manslaughter when he was just 16, posed a danger to the public and must remain behind bars until it is considered safe to release him.

Judge Morris passed an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection and ruled the defendant must serve a minimum of six years before he can apply for parole.

Passing sentence, he said: "You were deliberately using this motor vehicle as a weapon, a fearsome weapon.

"So many were injured by what you did, it is a truly exceptional feature of this case.

"As for their injuries, any one of them could have been so much worse, one or more of them could so easily have been killed.

"You will not be released, in fact, until the parole board decide that it is safe to release you again into the community."

Bradley already had two previous convictions for drink-driving and was banned from driving for life.

High on a cocktail of drink and cocaine, he was seen to be laughing as he drove at the pedestrians, the court heard.

He had been thrown out of the Dali Bar, on Packer Street, for being "extremely drunk" and tried to push his way back in, threatening the doormen before bouncer Ben Pickup pushed him to the ground.

Bradley warned: "I will f****** have you! Watch this now!"

A minute later he mounted the pavement outside the bar, "levelled" the car at Mr Pickup and drove straight at him - missing him by inches.

Bradley ploughed on, accelerating down the broad pavement, running over and scattering shocked revellers.

He ran over a number of bystanders, who were flung over the bonnet while dozens more had to dive out of the way of the car.

Bradley slammed on the brakes at the end of the street, pedestrians rolling off the bonnet, before he ran them over too, witnesses told police.

At least 20 people were injured, with more left walking wounded.

"The defendant left a scene of devastation behind him," Michael Morley, prosecuting, told the court.

"It really is miraculous no one was killed. Immediately door staff and members of the public ran to help numerous people who were injured."

Lucy Hague and Gemma Beech were out celebrating their graduation to become state registered nurses, Mr Morley told the court.

"They immediately felt their new skills in much demand," he added.

The nurses helped the injured before police and paramedics arrived.

James Jackson told police the last thing he remembered was talking to a friend outside a bar and waking up "some distance" down the street injured.

The worst-injured man, Artur Balla, was left with multiple skull fractures and spent three days in hospital.

Many have suffered long-term consequences of anxiety, the court heard.

The incident was caught on CCTV and Bradley was named as a suspect but he went into hiding and officers searched more than 80 homes in an attempt to catch him.

Bradley pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent at a previous hearing.

He also admitted two counts of Section 20 assault, 10 other assaults, aggravated taking of a motor vehicle without consent, and dangerous driving.

Bradley also asked the court to take another eight offences into consideration.

Unemployed Bradley, who is known to have a number of children, including four with his wife, was jailed for manslaughter in 2002 after a gang attack where another youth was punched and kicked to death in his home town of Rochdale.

Anthony Morris, mitigating, told the court his client had a problem with drink and cocaine.

"He's not bad by nature, he's bad when he's had a combination of things that can be avoided," he told the court.

The stolen Saab car used in the incident had been taken during a burglary on September 12 in Sale, Greater Manchester, but police could not link Bradley to the break-in.

No action was taken against Richard Stott, who had co-operated with police, after he "foolishly" got back into the car with the defendant after the row with the bouncers.

Bradley waved and gave a thumbs up to his pregnant wife and his mother in the public gallery as he was taken down.