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Pair deny part in deliberate ‘hit-and-run’ which left Derbyshire reveller fighting for his life

Photo: Derby Telegraph
Photo: Derby Telegraph

Two men have denied causing grievous bodily harm to a reveller who nearly died after they allegedly tracked him down before he was struck by a car.

Nottingham Crown Court heard today, Wednesday, May 2, how Jake Greenhalgh, 23, has already admitted causing serious injury by driving the Audi A4 on Derby Road, Ripley, which left Soltan Habchi with life-threatening injuries.

But two other men including car passenger Luke James and van driver Davey Booth have pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm for their alleged part in the incident.

Prosecuting barrister Stephen Kemp said: “In the early hours of Saturday, October 21, last year, a 27-year-old man, Soltan Habchi, was struck by an Audi A4 motorcar as he walked home along Derby Road, Ripley.

“He was very seriously injured as a result. There were concerns for a number of days that the injuries he suffered might prove fatal.”

Mr Kemp added that the Audi A4 was driven by Greenhalgh and Mr James was a front seat passenger and Mr James’s brother Connor Smith was on the back seat but there is no evidence Mr Smith committed any offence.

The Audi A4 had been bought on October 20, last year, by Greenhalgh and later that evening the car and its occupants were allegedly captured driving around on CCTV.

At the time of the later collision with Mr Habchi, at about 2am, on October 21, there had been a van driven behind the Audi by Davey Booth, according to Mr Kemp.

Mr Kemp said: “The prosecution case against Mr Booth is that he was a participant in what led to the collision with the Audi driven by Jake Greenhalgh.”

CCTV was shown to the court of an Audi and a van driving backwards and forwards along Derby Road at Ripley before the collision.

Further CCTV footage also showed Mr Habchi walking home along Derby Road from the White Lion pub.

Mr Kemp said: “He was walking home and there was some interaction between him and the occupants of the Audi .

“The Audi stopped alongside Mr Habchi and there was a conversation about him being given a lift home and the occupants offered to take him for a price of £20 which he refused so the Audi drove off.”

Mr Kemp added that this encounter was near Ripley Leisure Centre before Greenhalgh phoned Mr Booth and they met in their vehicles.

Both vehicles were captured on CCTV driving back to Mr Habchi, according to Mr Kemp, and they were driving very close to him and Mr Habchi had to get out of the way of the Audi during an incident prior to the later collision.

Mr Kemp added that both vehicles continued to drive up and down Derby Road after there had been an altercation with Mr Habchi.

Mr James was also allegedly captured on CCTV collecting two long fluorescent light tubes which were seen hanging out of an Audi as it was still being followed by a van around Ripley.

A witness at Elms Avenue said he saw Mr Habchi with a traffic cone and had seen him swing it at an Audi before another witness saw the collision between the Audi and Mr Habchi.

Mr Kemp said: “He saw the approaching lights of the Audi and the van behind it and he was not aware of Mr Habchi.

“But he saw the Audi mount the kerb on its nearside on that bend near Derby Road and heard the noise of a person being hit by the car and saw a body flying through the air.”

Mr Kemp added that the Audi did not stop but sped away.

A further witness also stated that she had seen an Audi and van driving around before seeing the Audi hit Mr Habchi and drive away.

Mr Kemp said: “No one from either the Audi or the van stopped to help Mr Habchi who was sprawled half-on and half-off the pavement.”

Mr Kemp claimed that Greenhalgh and Mr James dumped and set fire to the Audi at Butterley Reservoir.

Defence barrister Richard Thatcher said Mr James admits being present but he denies being party to any plan to cause injury or to set fire to the car.

Defence barrister Mark Knowles said Mr Booth had agreed to drive around but there was no intention to hurt anyone.

Luke James, 28, of Butterley Row, Ripley, and Davey Booth, 23, of Street Lane, Ripley, have both pleaded not guilty to causing GBH.

And Mr James also pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice by setting fire to a car.

Jake Greenhalgh, 23, of Down Meadow, Heage, has pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by driving and has admitted perverting the course of justice by setting fire to a car.

The trial continues.