A man who knocked down a student with his car while on a vigilante-style hunt for pranksters has been jailed for 12 months.
Oliver Donnellan, 47, struck Christopher German with his Land Rover as he searched for the teenagers who’d knocked on the door of his £350,000 gated property in Bolton, and ran off on December 28, 2019.
The 23-year-old was not involved in the prank and was left with serious injuries to his legs. He needed a full reconstruction of his left knee, and doctors fear he will develop arthritis before he reaches thirty.
A court heard Donnellan, a former IT company director, had already confronted the youths the week before the incident.
Infuriated by their follow-up prank, the father-of-two got into his 4×4 with his brother and drove towards Cutacre Country Park in Atherton, where he believed they would be.
Christopher was sitting on a park gate along the track, watching Dr Who on his phone with his friends, when he was then struck by Donnellan’s car.
He said: ‘The 4×4 came down the road with its high beam lights on. At first I thought nothing of it but then it pelted up the path and by the time I looked up it hit me. I managed to push my body up but the Land Rover hit my legs. I landed on the bonnet and I screamed out.
‘I was pinned between the gate and the Land Rover and I could not feel anything from my left knee down to my heel. One of my friends helped me to get over the gate and run away when the vehicle reversed but I collapsed on a dirt track.
‘We all thought we were going to be killed – it was the scariest moment of my life. I do not know how someone could slam their car at someone.’
He added: ‘This complete stranger changed my life forever and I genuinely thought my friends and I could have been killed. As it is I cannot do things a young man in his 20s should be able to do. I’m still anxious when cars drive past me when I am out and about. It’s made me very angry bitter and resentful.’
Christopher was left housebound for several months, and had to retake the second year of his degree in business management at the University of Manchester.
The court heard Donnellan returned home after the incident and carefully parked his car to conceal the damage, and later got it repaired before replacing it with an Audi.
Donnellan claimed he couldn’t stop his car in time, and braked moments before impact, allegedly hitting the gate at 10mph.
He admitted driving away after the incident, but claimed he reported it to the police and his insurers after arriving home later that evening.
The court also heard Donnellan’s nephew had called Christopher and threatened to kill him after the family discovered the police had launched an investigation.
He was only formally charged 18 months after the incident.
Reading a statement out in court, Christopher’s father Martin said: ‘Unfortunately for me I drive past your house every day, I now see that Audi parked on your driveway and I always think you are proverbially sticking two fingers up at me.
‘You thought you had got away with it and you thought you were getting on with your own life not caring about how badly you had affected ours.
‘During your trial you tried to portray yourself as a well respected upstanding member of the community – but I know different. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pillar of society or a career criminal – you’ve given my son a life sentence.’
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