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Kent farmer jailed for 15 YEARS for attempted murder of neighbour, 71, after land dispute

Kent farmer jailed for 15 YEARS for attempted murder of neighbour, 71, after land dispute 2

A turf farmer who deliberately ran over his elderly neighbour during a long running feud was jailed for 15 years today.

Charles Wood, 59, mounted the pavement and ploughed into Thomas Robinson, 71, at up to 20mph in Rye Road, Sandhurst, Kent.

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The pair had made allegations against each other of criminal damage and assault before the incident on 2 March 2020.

Mr Robinson was making his way to village shops when Wood struck him from behind in his VW Transporter van.

He was sent flying into the air and suffered a brain haemorrhage as well as spinal and rib fractures and a collapsed lung.

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Charles Wood (pictured), 59, mounted the pavement and ploughed into Thomas Robinson, 71, at up to 20mph in Rye Road, Sandhurst, Kent

 Charles Wood (pictured), 59, mounted the pavement and ploughed into Thomas Robinson, 71, at up to 20mph in Rye Road, Sandhurst, Kent

Mr Robinson spent several weeks recovering at the Stoke Mandeville Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre after the attack.

Wood, whose clients include Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium’s ‘removable’ pitch and Wentworth Golf Course in Surrey, denied prosecution claims he used his van as a lethal weapon.

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He admitted he was at the wheel of the VW van but claimed he had no recollection of the incident.

Wood denied but was convicted of attempted murder by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court last October.

Judge Charles Gratwicke told Wood: ‘As a result of your driving Mr Robinson was thrown up into the air and sustained the injuries that this court heard about in the course of the trial and how they have come to affect him. It is merciful that he was not killed.

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‘You drove away and subsequently drove back passing the site without stopping.

‘Mr Robinson was not unknown to you. There had in the past been a dispute between him and yourself over a shared access way.

‘A motor vehicle at the best of times can be a danger to other vehicles and indeed pedestrians. When driven into a person at speed, as the jury by their verdicts found to be the case, it becomes a lethal weapon.’

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Alongside his 15-year jail sentence, Wood is disqualified from driving for 12 and a half years and the VW used in the attack will be confiscated and destroyed.

Witnesses told the court how they saw Wood (pictured) 'line up' his van to target Mr Robinson shortly before the incident

Witnesses told the court how they saw Wood (pictured) ‘line up’ his van to target Mr Robinson shortly before the incident

Mr Robinson, 71, was struck from behind on Rye Road (pictured), Sandhurst, in March 2020

Mr Robinson, 71, was struck from behind on Rye Road (pictured), Sandhurst, in March 2020

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One witness had described seeing Wood ‘line up’ Mr Robinson as his target before driving off with black smoke billowing from the exhaust.

Police later found the van parked outside his converted barn with a smashed windscreen and large dent to the bonnet.

Wood denied being involved in a feud with his neighbour but was convicted of attempted murder.

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He said he was well-off financially and would not have jeopardised everything by running someone over.

Wood said he believed it must have been an accident.

According to the prosecution Mr Robinson received a formal caution in February 2014 after Wood reported he had damaged his postbox and thrown rubbish and paint at his gateway.

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Further claims of assault followed in April 2016 but again no further action was taken by police.

Wood (pictured), 59, was involved in an acrimonious dispute with Robinson going as far back as 2014

Wood (pictured), 59, was involved in an acrimonious dispute with Robinson going as far back as 2014

At Maidstone Crown Court, Wood was jailed for 15 years and disqualified from driving for 12 and a half years and the VW used in the attack will be confiscated and destroyed.

At Maidstone Crown Court, Wood was jailed for 15 years and disqualified from driving for 12 and a half years and the VW used in the attack will be confiscated and destroyed.

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The Robinsons claimed Wood had damaged their property in August 2016 and there was another complaint of alleged damage caused by Wood three months later.

Detective Chief Inspector Garry Cook, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: ‘Wood used his van as a weapon and his actions left his elderly victim suffering a number of appalling injuries. It is only by chance that the victim survived this unprovoked assault, although there is little doubt these serious injuries will have a profound and long-lasting effect.

‘As well as the lasting physical scars the impact of this crime will likely have a significant psychological impact on the victim for the rest of their life. I only hope today’s sentence will provide some closure and reassurance that at least justice has now been served.’

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