Cumbria Crack

Hit-and-run driver jailed for nine-and-a-half years

John Burns

[A] man who crashed a stolen car into a cyclist leaving him with life-threatening injuries has been jailed today for nine-and-a-half years.

John Burns, 30, of Sycamore Drive, Manchester, admitted two counts of blackmail, theft, fraud and causing serious injury by dangerous driving

The court heard how, on 26 July 2017 at around 11.50am, a woman was in the front passenger seat a Range Rover parked at Forton services near Lancaster when Burns opened the door to the car, got into the driver’s seat and threatened her.

He then demanded the car keys, saying he had a “blade”. However, the woman did not have the car keys – they were with her father inside the services.

Burns then fled, getting back into his own Ford Transit van and driving away.

At around 12.20pm Burns approached a second car, this time at Truckhaven – a service station situated on the A6, just off junction 35 of the M6.

Burns opened the door to a black VW Polo and demanded the woman in the driver’s seat get out of the car. He said: “I’m telling you now get out or I’ll hurt you.”

He drove off in the car and was next seen driving in Carnforth at around 12.30pm.

That afternoon he used a debit card belonging to the driver of the VW Polo to make payments at Asda in Kendal, amounting to more than £70.

At 3.15pm, the stolen car was spotted parked in Ulverston Leisure Centre car park by an officer. The officer approached the car but it sped off at speed.

Five minutes later, the car passed two officers heading towards Hill Fall. The officers turned their car around in an attempt to follow the vehicle which was seen swerving, driving on the wrong side of the road and travelling at around 50mph.

The officers were around 100m behind the car when it went out of view, rounding a bend at the corner of Lightburn Park.

When the officers themselves made the turn they found a cyclist lying on the ground and stopped to assist as the car continued driving away, heading up Park Road.

Witnesses said the cyclist was hit as he crossed the junction between Well Lane and Park Road. The impact threw the cyclist around 30 feet into the air and he came to rest some 40 feet from the initial collision, being seen to land on his head and face.

His bicycle was snapped in two.

The cyclist was air-lifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries and was operated on to relieve pressure on his brain.

The VW Polo was located shortly after the collision, abandoned. Inside the car was a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey and John Burns’ driving licence.

Following his arrest, Burns refused to answer any questions in interview. He gave only a pre-prepared statement in which he stated he had not threatened anyone, used any violence or said anything which would cause alarm or distress.

Superintendent Rob O’Connor said:

“I vowed at the time we would arrest and prosecute the person responsible for the horrific injuries suffered by Mr Talbot. However, we had to be guarded about the amount of information we released to ensure to part of the investigation or future prosecution was jeopardised.

“At the time of the incident, I was aware that the public were frustrated by this. However, we knew from the outset who we were relooking for, and were working very closely with Greater Manchester Police, as well as deploying officers from Cumbria to Manchester to detain Burns.

“Thankfully, as covered in the media in recent weeks, Mr Talbot is making a good recovery, and I wish him all the very best with regards to his ongoing recuperation.”

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