The family of Michael Robb, a 27 year-old accountant from the Bridge of Don, Aberdeen who was left with a significant brain injury after a driver deliberately hit him, were disappointed to hear this week that the driver, Nathan Rutter, was sentenced to three years imprisonment (which is likely to be reduced by half) and a 10 year driving ban.
Following a criminal prosecution, Rutter of Maple Cross, Rickmansworth was found guilty by the St Albans Crown Court of dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving. Mr Robb’s family consider the sentence to be lenient in light of the malicious nature of the crime and the on-going impact on Mr Robb’s health and his future.
Michael Robb and a group of friends travelled to Watford to watch a football match between Watford and Leeds United on 4 May 2013. Later that evening, they were involved in a minor disturbance with Nathan Rutter outside a kebab shop on Uxbridge Road, Rickmansworth, before leaving to return to their accommodation.
Mr Robb and his friends left the kebab shop and were walking together on the pavement along Uxbridge Road. Mr Rutter, who had returned to his vehicle after the incident at the kebab shop, drove his car down the same road, crossed over onto the opposite carriageway, mounted the pavement and drove with two wheels on the pavement at the group from behind at a speed reported to be in excess of 30mph.
While two of Mr Robb’s friends were able to avoid the vehicle and one was caught by a glancing blow, Mr Robb was hit squarely by the vehicle and thrown into the air, hitting his head on the bonnet and windscreen of the car.
After the collision, Mr Rutter drove back on to the road and returned home leaving Mr Robb unconscious on the roadside. He was taken to St Mary's Hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull and underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain. He remained there for a week before being transferred to his local hospital, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Since then he has been undergoing therapy and rehabilitation and has only recently been discharged home.
Although rehabilitative therapy has led to significant improvements in Mr Robb’s condition, he has lost 70% of his hearing in his right ear and suffers from permanent tinnitus. He also continues to suffer from memory problems and other residual effects of the head injury.
Mr Robb and his family are this week coming to terms with the verdict and sentence handed down by St Albans Crown Court and declined to comment further than to express their disappointment at the leniency of the sentence.
Philippa Luscombe, head of the personal injury team of Penningtons Manches LLP, is representing Mr Robb in relation to a civil claim against the insurers of Mr Rutter. She said: "This was a very shocking incident where an individual deliberately drove up onto the pavement and hit our client. The injuries that he sustained were severe but it was extremely lucky that they were not worse and that he has made such a good recovery to date. While it is some consolation to Mr Robb and his family that the defendant pleaded guilty to some of the charges put to him, this is another example of the sadly limited sentencing powers of the court for serious driving offences."