A DRIVER who knocked down his childhood pal after they had a fall-out escaped with a suspended jail sentence.
Richard Lewis drove his Ford Focus at Mr Michael Carter on a car park in Stafford, lifting him on to the bonnet and smashing the windscreen.
Although stopping momentarily, Lewis then fled from the scene and later had his car repaired at a windscreen fitting centre, Stafford crown court heard.
Mr Carter was taken to hospital, only to discharge himself, however he had to go back the next day because he was more badly injured than he thought. He was treated for cuts to his shoulder, head and knee and a chipped tooth.
The defendant was arrested four days later, on April 23, and he told officers he had knocked down Mr Carter, but he hadn't done it deliberately.
Lewis, 27, of Tillington Street, Stafford, admitted dangerous driving and failing to stop after an accident causing injury to a person. He was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months, banned from driving for two years, with an extended test, ordered to do 240 hours unpaid community work and curfewed for three months. He was also ordered to pay Mr Carter £1,000 compensation, £600 costs and £100 surcharge.
Recorder Mr Michael Stephens told him: "you could have killed one of your best friends. You had been friends for many years when you got distracted by your implication with a woman. Neither of you dealt with it in a mature way.
"Mr Carter lost his cool, he wanted to fight, but many might say he didn't deserve what happened to him.
"He couldn't get at you because you had locked your car. You could have driven away - you didn't instead you remained on the car park and drove around it an an unnecessary speed before driving in to Mr Carter. One witness described it as driving like an idiot."
Miss Chamberlain said the incident happened on the Virgin Active car park in Eccleshall Road, a known haunt for young men and their cars.
Lewis and the victim had been good friends since childhood, but had fallen out after Mr Carter split from his girlfriend.
When Mr Carter saw Lewis's Focus pull on to the car park, he tried to open the doors - it was plain he wanted a fight. Lewis did not want a fight, his response was to circle the car park, wheels screeching, until he drove directly at Mr Carter.
Mr David Bratt, defending, said it had been a chance meeting between the two men. "Whilst in no way did Mr Carter deserve to be run down, the catalyst for what did take place must be laid at Mr Carter for his aggressive attitude. He was not best pleased that his former girlfriend was seeing the defendant."
Lewis had driven at speed, not to hit Mr Carter, but to drive past him. "He didn't drive with an intent to run him down."