Man run over after being mistaken for scarecrow: ‘I feel like it might have been better for her to have killed me’

Laurence John who was run over Picture: Ben Mitchell/PA Wire
Laurence John who was run over Picture: Ben Mitchell/PA Wire

A 60-year-old woman who drove over a man lying on the road causing him life-changing injuries because she mistook him for a ‘guy or scarecrow’ has been jailed for 12 months.

Marian Watt, of South Town Road, Alton, was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court after she was found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Christopher Amis, prosecuting, told the court the defendant checked on the victim, Laurence John, who was lying in the narrow road outside the Yew Tree pub in Alresford on November 25, 2017.

She then continued driving when she thought he was a ‘Guy Fawkes guy or a scarecrow or something of that sort’.

He said Mr John had been drinking with his partner and her brother in the pub but had left to walk home later than them.

Mr Amis said the landlord thought the victim ‘wasn't drunk but at most a little merry’.

He said: ‘Mr John then left the pub, intending to walk the short distance home.

‘For some reason, which even now remains unclear, Mr John ended up lying prone in the middle of the very dark road on what was a very cold night.’

Mr Amis said Watt was driving home in her Toyota Land Cruiser from having dinner with friends and had drunk two glasses of wine but said she was ‘unaffected by alcohol’.

He said: ‘Her account was that as she drove down the hill approaching the Yew Tree public house she came across Mr John lying prone in the road but she thought what she was looking at was a Guy Fawkes' guy or a scarecrow or something of that sort simply lying in the road.

‘She stopped, she said she had got out of her car and had a look and satisfied herself after what appears to be a fairly brief look that it was a guy as opposed to anything else.’

The court heard Mr John suffered multiple life-changing fractures and injuries in the incident and spent four months in hospital, with treatment ongoing.

The 55-year-old told the court he has to spend 75 per cent of his time lying down or on an inversion table ‘like a bat’ as ‘this is the only thing that gives relief from the pain’.

He said he would no longer be able to enjoy his outdoor lifestyle and mountain biking.

Mr John added: ‘I do at times have to remind myself that I was lucky to survive the horrendous accident as things are so unbearable at times.

‘I do at times feel like it might have been better for Marian Watt to have done a decent job on me and killed me, such is the despair I often find myself in when thinking about the last 10 months and the future.’

Sentencing Watt, Judge Keith Cutler described her as a ‘pillar of the community and church’ who was responsible for caring for her elderly parents.

But he told her: ‘Your dreadful, inexplicable and horrific decision was this - having stopped, surveyed the scene, you then decided to drive your Toyota Land Cruiser over Mr Laurence John.

‘As a result he was crushed, he was dragged for seven or so metres down the road.

‘You then apparently drove off with no care, understanding or belief that you had caused harm to anyone.

‘That decision was found by the jury as one that no careful or competent driver would have done, no sensible driver would have done.’

As well as the prison sentence, Watt was banned from driving for two years after her release and ordered to take an extended driving test.