Prison for boy racer who killed Sowerby Bridge man’s dog

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

A “boy racer” who drove his car at a man out walking his three dogs and killed one of the pets is beginning a 15-month prison sentence.

Bradford Crown Court heard how a road rage incident involving Sowerby Bridge resident Paul Hanratty ended with his terrier dog being struck and killed by Harry Lumley’s Vauxhall Corsa.

Judge Jonathan Rose was told how Mr Hanratty had long-standing concerns about “boy racers” and HGVs using Dob Lane, Ryburn, which is a narrow road with no pathway for pedestrians.

In December 2011, Mr Hanratty had left his home to walk his three dogs and immediately saw the Corsa being driven at speed.

Prosecutor Oliver Thorne said Mr Hanratty waved at the vehicle to suggest it should slow down, but after he continued walking he heard the car approaching at speed from behind him.

After the vehicle stopped, there was an altercation between Mr Hanratty and Lumley who got out of the car with a wheel brace.

During a struggle between the two men, Lumley claimed to have been hit over the head with the wheel brace, but Mr Thorne said Mr Hanratty maintained that the defendant was hurt when his head hit the ground.

Mr Thorne said Lumley threw a brick towards the complainant before getting back into his car, but as Mr Hanratty gathered up his dogs he heard the sound of screeching tyres.

“He turned round and saw the silver Corsa driving towards him and his dogs at speed,” said Mr Thorne.

As Mr Hanratty attempted to get himself and the dogs out of the way one of the animals was struck by the Corsa.

“Mr Hanratty went to his dog and took her in his arms where a short time later she died,” said Mr Thorne.

He shouted at Lumley, who remained at the scene, that he had killed the dog and had to be restrained by other members of the public.

The court heard that Lumley was reported to have said soon after the incident that he had driven at the dog on purpose because he had been struck over the head, but his barrister Adam Birkby submitted that the comment had only been made out of spite and anger in the heat of moment.

He said Lumley himself had a dog and he realised how devastated he would be if someone knocked down his pet.

Mr Birkby said Lumley wanted to make a public apology for what he had done and it was something he would have to live with for the rest of his life.

Lumley, 21, of Howarth Close, Halifax, admitted offences of dangerous driving and destroying property in relation to the dog.

Judge Rose said “boy racer” was an accurate description of Lumley because he had driving irresponsibly and recklessly in a fast and powerful car.

He said Mr Hanratty was going to be understandably annoyed “when the boy racers come to town” and if he raised his hand in a gesture it was only because he was tired of having his home and his dogs put in danger by fools in powerful cars.

The judge told Lumley that the whole incident was entirely his fault because if he had carried on driving it would not have happened.

He noted that whatever the circumstances of the altercation Lumley came off worse and that made him more angry than he already was.

“It could so easily have been Mr Hanratty that you killed and had it been the sentence I would have imposed would be very different to the one I am going to impose,” the judge told Lumley.

“I’m not sentencing you just for killing the dog. I am sentencing you because you took the risk of killing Mr Hanratty and the other dogs.

“It was just out of anger...it was wholly unjustifiable and that you took the life of a dog is an aggravating feature.”

Lumley will serve half of his 15-month prison sentence, but he will also be banned from driving for two years and must take an extended re-test.

“I’m very sorry Mr Lumley but the harm you have done is simply too great,” the judge added.