Five years detention for Todmorden teen who triggered fears of a terrorist incident as he drove into people

A teenage driver from Todmorden who ploughed into pedestrians in Blackpool - sparking fears of a terrorist incident - has been sentenced to five years in a young offender's institution.

Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 5:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 5:16 pm
Jake Hartley from Todmorden

Shocking footage of Jake Hartley colliding with revellers and pedestrians in the resort was played to a senior judge who described the scenes as "truly shocking".

The 19-year-old, of Rochdale Road, Todmorden, admitted nine charges and sobbed as he was addressed by The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown who told him:

"The police and public had every reason to think a terrorist incident was going on.

"It is remarkable that during the course of this event nobody was much more seriously injured or killed and the public must have been horrified by your conduct.

"Bearing in mind the tragic events that have occurred elsewhere when terrorist incidents have taken place you must surely have appreciated the likely impact of your actions."

He was banned from driving for five years and must do an extended retest.

Prosecuting, Karen Brooks described how Hartley's rampage, on April 14, began after he had a row with girlfriend Nadia Mullin in the Urban Lounge in the Home and HQ nightclub on The Strand, and hurled a drink over her.

He had travelled to the resort in a silver Skoda vehicle loaned to his employer, which he took without permission.

The court heard he removed its numberplates so the vehicle was not identified, and then returned to the club where he was involved in a row with a group of men he threatened with a knuckleduster.

He then took to the streets and ploughed into people during a two mile journey of terror.

Fearing a terrorist attack, the town centre was in lockdown with revellers unable to leave the town's bars until it was declared safe.

Horrific footage of Hartley speeding down The Strand and knocking victim Zain Choudhury over as others leapt out of the way was played to the judge.

Visibly shocked, he said: " You can well see why this was thought to be a terrorist incident.

"It very much looks like he's driving with one purpose in mind and that's to cause as much damage and mayhem as he can."

The victim suffered swelling, bruising and a laceration to her chin that has left permanent scarring.

Further CCTV shows members of public bravely running after the car.

As the journey continued Hartley collided with a roadwork barrier and struck two elderly women aged 73 and 80, who suffered a fractured clavicle and dislocated shoulder.

The Skoda was later found in a hotel car park and he was arrested nearby.

When police searched Hartley's home they found a stun gun.

Hartkey's relatives, who watched from the public gallery, sobbed audibly as defending, Richard Littler said: " There can only be one sentence today and the only issue is how long that's going to be.

He is deeply traumatised by this case but his trauma pales into insignificance when compared to the trauma he caused to others.

"It's surprising conduct for someone with no previous convictions.

"I asked him yesterday - he cannot come up with any explanation. He saw red mist. He was in rage because of what happened in the nightclub and behaved in a completely irrational fashion.

"He has brought shame on his family. They are all here to support him and are in complete disbelief.

"He has lost his liberty, his good character, his employment, he's jeopardised his relationship with the lady he assaulted - this lady is sitting in court and their relationship is still ongoing.

"People talk about him being very family orientated, volunteering to support other people, being caring, hard working and kind, and devastated by what he has done.

"The truth is this could have been a very different one to the one we have - there could have been fatalities."

Hartley admitted two counts of causing actual bodily harm, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, dangerous driving, common assault, aggravated vehicle taking,drink driving, possession of a prohibited weapon and having no insurance or licence.

Judge Mark Brown said: " You have pleaded guilty to offences arising out of a very serious incident in Blackpool Town Centre.

"If the sentence I'm about to impose is ever reviewed by a higher court, it is important the judges should view the CCTV that is available.

"In my judgement this case highlights the obvious dangers created by a motor vehicle being in the wrong hands and it is understandable that initially there was a serious concern a terrorist incident had taken place.

"You drove around the streets of Blackpool covering a distance of about two miles with total disregard for the safety of pedestrians and other road users.

"You were swerving towards people and many of them had to jump out of the way fearing as they did for their own safety. When you were travelling along The Strand, a particularly narrow street, you were literally almost ploughing into people.

"One victim has described the profound psychological impact of the event upon her."