HAVe-a-go hero Craig Rothwell has earned a reward for his bravery after he chased a stolen van on foot and pulled the thief out of the cab when it got stuck in traffic.
A judge at Doncaster Crown Court awarded the 29-year-old £250 from public funds for his ‘very brave actions’ and said he’d put his own life at risk.
Craig, a gas main layer from Blaxton said he was glad the thief had been locked up for two years and admitted: “It got a bit personal.”
The court heard Craig hung on to the passenger door handle of the £20,000 Mercedes van when it was taken by Trevor Floy in Bentley last March.
At one stage the van braked hard and Craig was thrown onto the road but he was undeterred, picked himself up and continued to run after the vehicle until he caught up with it again on Jossey Lane.
He managed to haul Floy out of the driver’s seat and pin him to the ground until police arrived.
“He was a thieving scumbag and he wasn’t going to get away with it,” said Craig.
“I know I wouldn’t like it if someone stole my van and all the tools in it because someone has to pay for it.
“The bloke whose van was nicked had one taken only four weeks before and to lose another £22,000 would have finished his business off.”
He added: “When I got my hand stuck in the door handle he slammed the anchors on and I landed on the road which could have been a bit dangerous.
“But I decided he wasn’t going to get away, so I went after him again. It really wound me up. When he stalled I was able to get in the cab because he had been too stupid to lock the doors.
“I’m really pleased he got two years and I’ll enjoy a few drinks with the reward money. It was nice to be recognised.”
Floy, aged 36, of Elm Green Lane, Conisbrough, pleaded guilty to stealing the van, dangerous driving, and handling a stolen car transporter while he was on bail for the first offence.
Prosecutor Carl Fitch told the court when Mr Rothwell managed to open the stolen van door he shouted at the thief: “I’ve got you now, get out.”
Floy replied “no you haven’t” but then selected the wrong gear and stalled the engine.
“Mr Rothwell managed to grab the defendant and pull him head first and pinned him to the ground, having put his own life at risk,” said Mr Fitch.
Floy later told police he had stolen the van to order and would have been paid £100 so he could buy heroin.
His record showed 31 previous offences including theft, burglary and drugs matters.
Defence solicitor Nigel Lumley said his client disputed the degree of dangerous driving because the offence occurred in slow-moving traffic where the maximum speed was 10mph.
Judge Jacqueline Davies said Mr Rothwell’s “valiant actions” led to the apprehension of Floy.
“It goes without saying that as a result of your dangerous driving he could have been the victim of much more serious, even fatal, injuries.”
Floy was jailed for nine months for the van theft, nine months consecutive for dangerous driving, and a further six months for the handling offence.
He was also banned from driving for two years.