Car-jacker jailed after drivers dragged along the ground during robberies

editorial image

A car-jacker who targeted vehicles using petrol stations in Halifax and Huddersfield after he fled from police in Bradford has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Police tried to arrest Ryan John-Lewis at a house in Crawford Avenue last May, but he escaped after pushing one officer to the ground and embarked on an 15-day crime spree which ended with a high-speed pursuit along roads in Brighouse.

Four days after fleeing the house in Bradford John-Lewis tried to car-jack a Mercedes CLS belonging to West Yorkshire lawyer Anastasis Tassou while he was putting air in the tyres of the vehicle at the Trafaglar petrol station in Huddersfield.

Prosecutor Kate Bisset told Bradford Crown Court today (Thursday) that John-Lewis got into the driver’s seat of the car and tried to start it, but when Mr Tassou got in the passenger seat the defendant fled.

A few days later John-Lewis got into an Audi convertible on the forecourt of the Morrisons petrol station in Huddersfield and drove off even though owner Kevin Thorbourne, 51, was holding onto the door.

Miss Bisset said the complainant was dragged about 20 yards before falling to the ground.

Mr Thorbourne suffered various abrasions to his elbows and knees and in a victim impact statement he said he had been left with a loss of feeling on the inside of his right knee.

Four days later John-Lewis struck again when he jumped into a Suzuki Swift belonging to 79-year-old Warner Baxter as he was putting air in the tyres of his car at the Sainsbury’s petrol station in Halifax.

Recorder David Wilby QC was shown CCTV footage from the premises which captured John-Lewis driving off in the car with the complainant hanging onto one of the doors before falling to the ground.

In his victim impact statement Mr Baxter described how he suffered pain in his lower back and hip and had to be prescribed medication for anxiety.

He was also unable to take part in his usual crown green bowling matches and was still taking tablets more than five months after the incident.

The court heard that John-Lewis was seen swapping the registration plates on the stolen Suzuki and he used it as a getaway vehicle after he stole clothing from a Matalan store in Halifax.

The car, which reached speeds of 80mph in 30mph residential areas, was pursued by police on roads in Brighouse before crashing into a parked vehicle.

Miss Bissett said John-Lewis ran off, but following a violent struggle with officers he was arrested after being bitten by a police dog.

John-Lewis, of no fixed abode, admitted a variety of offences including two robberies, one attempt robbery, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and assault with intent to resist arrest.

The court heard he had 28 previous convictions for 53 offences and at the time the police tried to arrest him in Bradford he was still on licence from a previous jail term.

Barrister Angus MacDonald, for John-Lewis, said his eventual guilty pleas to all offences had spared the victims the harrowing experience of giving evidence at a trial.

He said John-Lewis had become involved with a circle of criminal associates in Huddersfield after he left the house in Bradford and he had committed opportunistic and unsophisticated offences.

John-Lewis was banned from driving for five years and ordered to take an extended test at then end of his disqualification.