Three independent eyewitnesses gave evidence, along with the defendant’s then girlfriend. Two of the independent witnesses were clear that the defendant had driven violently and aggressively with the claimant on the bonnet, and this, together with the evidence of the defendant’s former girlfriend concerning the claimant’s behaviour, led the judge to conclude that both the claimant and the defendant had behaved badly. The evidence from both the claimant and the defendant themselves was not satisfactory and the defendant had deliberately exaggerated his fear for his life.
The court held that the defendant had committed a battery by deliberately applying potentially lethal force to the claimant. As the claimant was an unarmed pedestrian, the defendant’s actions both in driving towards the claimant and moving the car to remove the claimant from the bonnet could not be said to have been defensive. As regards the public policy issue, although the claimant had agreed to take part in an unlawful confrontation, the claimant’s injuries had been sustained as a result of the defendant committing a different kind of serious crime against the claimant. The judge remarked that, in the context of causation, the defendant’s use of the car was comparable to him using a knife. The defendant was therefore liable for the claimant’s injuries.
It is an interesting case in that the witness evidence and the fact the defendant had been in a car probably swayed the judge in the claimant’s favour. Cases of this nature are of course fact sensitive.
Joseph Carr and Ellen Lucas, Anthony Gold Solicitors