A MAN jumped out of a vehicle travelling at up to 40mph, a court heard, to escape the clutches of an offender described by a judge as a “drug dealer” who had put “the fear of God” into his victim.
Callum Woolgar fled from Benjamin Haines, who had punched him as co-accused Ryan Hood drove them in a pick-up truck after meeting in New Milton.
Haines told Mr Woolgar there were “nasty” people coming for him, and ordered Hood: “Get the handcuffs and the knife and hurry up and get to the container.”
The terrifying incident was laid out by prosecutor Dan Sawyer at a sentencing hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court.
As Haines and Mr Woolgar struggled in the back, Hood repeatedly accelerated and braked to make the car “jerk”, the court was told.
After about 30 seconds the victim managed to leap out of the truck while it was “going about 30-40mph”, the prosecutor continued. He hit the tarmac, breaking his elbow and thumb, and grazing his back.
Mr Woolgar struggled to a nearby house in a “distressed” state and without one of his shoes. He got a taxi home and phoned the police.
The incident happened after Mr Woolgar had met Haines at Ballard Lakes, New Milton, on 10th February 2018.
Haines and Hood, both 32, were initially jointly accused of kidnap – which they denied. Subsequently the charges against both was downgraded to committing grievous bodily harm, to which they pleaded guilty on the morning of the trial.
Defending Haines, of Northfield Road, Milford, Berenice Mulvanney insisted her client was a “changed man” who was “genuinely remorseful” for his actions.
He had a new partner and baby, and was supportive of them and two other children, she said, as well as having started a new groundwork business with 30 men working under him who might lose their jobs if he was jailed.
The court heard that in a meeting with probation, Haines had said that at the time of the offence he went back to drug dealing because “times were tough”.
Co-accused Hood, of Deneside Copse, Pennington, had played a “lesser role” in the offence, Judge Robert Pawson noted. His barrister, Christopher Stopa, said his client was a hard worker, remorseful and willing to face a curfew at home.
Although Hood was the driver, there was no planning and he was not aware of any of the history involving Haines and Mr Woolgar, he claimed.
Hood’s admittance of GBH was on the basis he drove the car but was not aware of what was going to happen. His criminal record included assault occasioning actual bodily harm, battery and failure to comply with court orders, including one he was under at the time of the offence.
Haines conceded he threw one punch at Mr Woolgar and caused him to jump out the car. His previous convictions included battery, drug supply, public order and driving matters.
Sentencing, Judge Robert Pawson described Haines as a “drug dealer” who played the “leading role” in the incident. He may be nice to his family, he said, but he was unpleasant to people when they “get in his way”.
Judge Pawson went on: “Anyone who has any experience of criminal cases who will read the papers in this case will be extremely suspicious of what exactly was going on [on the night of the offending],” said, telling Haines: “You put the fear of God into Mr Woolgar.”
He doubted Benjamin Haines’ claims to have struck Mr Woolgar only once and said he viewed Hood’s assertion not to have known what was going on “with an arched eyebrow”.
However, he chose not to jail the pair and instead handed out sentences suspended for two years.
Benjamin Haines received two years, a three-month curfew from 7pm-6am, 200 hours’ unpaid work in the community, and was told to pay £2,000 compensation to Mr Woolgar.
Hood received 18 months’ suspended jail, plus a three-month curfew from 8pm-5am, 100 hours’ community work, and £1,000 compensation order.