Bideford man jailed for mowing down ex on country lane

Joseph Priscott

Joseph Priscott - Credit: DC Police

A man has been jailed for deliberately driving at and running over his ex-partner in a narrow country lane.

Joseph Priscott saw victim Courtney Hill with her new boyfriend at a shop and followed them in his car as they walked home on the edge of Bideford.

He drove past them twice, getting closer on each occasion, before mowing down Miss Hill on his third pass. She was thrown over the bonnet and into a hedge before she fell onto the road with a seriously injured leg

Priscott then got out of his car and attacked her new partner Ross Barnett, who was trying to call for the police and an ambulance. He thrust his thumbs into his eyes and he feared he would be blinded.

Miss Hill had broken off her six-year relationship with Priscott after he tried to throttle her eight months before the car attack on January 2 this year.

He could not accept that she had moved on and was living with a new partner while he was left paying the mortgage on the home they shared. He spent two months stalking her before he was warned off by the police.

Priscott drove off after the attack and told his new girlfriend that he had tried to kill Miss Hill. He also wiped the memory of his dashcam to destroy the evidence.

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Miss Hill wrote an impact statement saying she thought Priscott was ‘gunning for her’ and trying to kill her, while Mr Bennett said being driven at was ‘like being in a horror movie and trying to hide from a psycho’.

Bricklayer Priscott, aged 24, of Sentry Corner, Bideford, admitted two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm and one of dangerous driving at Exeter Crown Court.

He was jailed for four years with a one-year extended licence by Judge James Patrick, who told him he was a dangerous offender.

He was banned from any contact with either victim for ten years by a restraining order and banned from driving for 18 months after his release.

He told him: “You drove at them deliberately at speed, colliding with Miss Hill and clipping Mr Barnett. It was a narrow road and they had no escape. She was thrown in the air and landed partially in the hedge.

“Mr Barnett tried to stop you getting at her when you got out of your car and you punched him and put your thumbs in his eyes, saying you were a fighter who knew how to fight.

“You drove at them aggressively three times on a narrow country road on which they were exposed and vulnerable. Your increasing aggression is evidence of pre-meditation.

“There was the potential for this to be more serious and it is pure luck she did not suffer a more serious injury. You used your car as a weapon.”

Miss Emily Pitts, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing that Priscott’s relationship with Miss Hill ended last summer after he attacked her and put his hands around her neck.

He bombarded her with texts for more than a month until he was arrested for stalking. He also drove at her at speed before stopping just short of her in August 2020.

His next contact was on January 2 this year when she and Mr Barnett were walking on Alverdiscott Road, just outside East-the-Water, and saw Priscott in his white Ford car.

He passed within inches of them twice as they pressed themselves into the hedge and threw something at Miss Hill from the window as he passed which he later claimed was eggs.

Miss Hill suffered a panic attack and was being comforted by Mr Bennett when they heard music from Priscott’s car stereo and saw him come into view and drive straight at them.

She was hit by the nearside wing and thrown over the bonnet while he was hit by the wing mirror and then attacked after Priscott pulled up.

She was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg actually suffered severe bruising.

Priscott wiped the memory of his dashcam and told police it was an accident. He said when he saw Miss Hill, he ‘went white and the next thing I knew the car clipped her’.

Mr William Parkhill, defending, said Priscott is a hard-working man who thought his future was mapped out when he bought a house with Miss Hill at the age of just 23.

All his dreams were shattered when their relationship broke up and he was left paying a mortgage on a house where he no longer wanted to live. He felt everything was crumbling around him.

He said his behaviour on that day did not make him a danger to the public.

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