Jail for ‘idiot’ hit-and-run driver

The horrific incident happened in Tweed Street, Grangemouth in October 2014
The horrific incident happened in Tweed Street, Grangemouth in October 2014

A driver who used his car as a weapon to mow down a young man and leave him with life-changing injuries has been jailed to await his sentence.

Steven Ballantyne was walking home from a night out with a friend when Akib Aslam attacked him, striking him with the vehicle before accelerating and swerving violently to throw him off the bonnet.

Aslam (22) was originally charged with attempting to murder the victim following the assault in Tweed Street, in Grangemouth’s Old Town, on October 25, 2014. However, the Crown accepted his guilty plea to a reduced charge of assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement and impairment.

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Boyd of Ducansby rejected a defence plea for Aslam to remain on bail ahead of his sentencing next month so a background report is prepared.

The judge said: “The offences to which you have plead guilty are serious ones.”

Aslam, of Bronte Place, Stenhousemuir, also admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by following Mr Ballantyne and Dylan Money, revving his engine loudly, carrying out handbrake turns and driving close to them.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran said: “Steven Ballantyne did nothing to provoke any violence against him as he walked home at the end of a night out. Whatever prompted the accused and his friends to follow and harass Steven and his friend cannot begin to explain why the accused elected to use his vehicle as a weapon.

“To drive at and collide with him then, in an escalation of what was already a stupid and reckless act, to accelerate and swerve violently whereby the victim was thrown onto the roadway, suffering life changing injuries.”

Mr Ballantyne suffered serious leg injuries in the attack. He underwent surgery and was housebound and unable to walk for three to four months afterwards.

The prosecutor said Mr Ballantyne and friends had been at a McDonalds restaurant with friends at the end of a night out.

Unemployed Aslam and his friends had been driving around in his Ford Fiesta which had stopped at the restaurant car park. Mr Ballantyne’s group noticed that a passenger in the car was shining a laser pen at them and other customers, causing annoyance.

Mr Ballantyne and Mr Money went out to the car and asked the occupants to stop shining it, but without success.

Mr McSporran said: “At one point in annoyance Dylan threw his milkshake over the accused’s vehicle. There is no suggestion that Steven did anything at any time.”

Police were informed about the nuisance and spoke to Aslam who was asked to move on. He drove off but returned and passenger Liam Linden began shining the laser pen again.

Mr Ballantyne and Mr Money left to walk home but Aslam’s vehicle approached them with a passenger trying to throw a drink.

They saw the Fiesta park up and wait for them. They walked past and started crossing the road, but the car pulled out and was heard to speed up and was seen driving on the wrong side of the road.

The prosecutor said: “Steven described the accused as ‘driving like an idiot, making his tyres squeal and pulling handbrake up’ to turn the vehicle to follow them.

“The vehicle drove unnecessarily close to them several times, making them fear that they may be struck.”

The car was driven into a gravel car park where its engine was revved and handbrake turns performed. The advocate depute said both young men had become so concerned for their safety that they tried to call their fathers.

At Tweed Street Aslam again drove very close to Mr Money before driving towards Mr Ballantyne who was still on the roadway.

“The accused drove his car deliberately at Steven who was unable to avoid the collision which forced him onto the bonnet of the car. It is understood that had the car stopped then, the likelihood of any injury being caused to Steven would have been minimal.

“Instead the accused accelerated while Steven was trying to find something to hold onto. He feared the accused was going to drive into a parked car but he started weaving the car from side to side which caused Steven to be thrown from the bonnet to the side.”

“He landed badly on the roadway and it is this which caused the injuries. He was unable to move and in great pain.”

The victim was taken to hospital and found to have sustained a major fracture to his left ankle and a severe injury with ligament damage. His family doctor reported that both the mental and physical consequences of the attack remain significant.

The doctor knew him before the incident and described the difference in him as “like night and day”, the court heard.

Benefit claimant Aslam later claimed in an interview with police the victim had jumped on the bonnet of his car, hitting his windscreen and he panicked and braked which made him fall off the vehicle.

He will be sentenced at the High Court next month.