Girlfriend tells court of horror of seeing Dunstable man hit by car

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A young woman told a murder trial jury this week of the moment her boyfriend was struck by a car after it mounted a kerb in a Dunstable street.

Joanne Hobbins said it happened as her boyfriend, Paul Pradier walked towards the vehicle having grabbed a tool from his van.

Miss Hobbins said moments earlier the car had driven into the back of the vehicle she and her boyfriend were travelling in.

She said the driver of the other car, who it’s alleged was 26 year old Brendan Thomson, had been chasing them after they found themselves caught up in a row outside a newsagents shop in Dunstable in September of last year.

Miss Hobbins told Luton crown court that after the car had struck their rear bumper, her boyfriend stopped the van they were in, in Jardine Way and they both got out.

She said the vehicle driven by Mr Thomson drove past them, but then at the top of the road turned round and came back towards them.

“Paul was shouting at him and we were just saying ‘F...... idiot’ and there was no need for this.”

She told the jury that following the minor collision Paul had grabbed a tool from the vehicle which she described as a ratchet.

She said as the other vehicle, a dark Renault Megan, drove back down Jardine Way her boyfriend walked on a grass verge towards it.

“Paul went towards the car, but tried to go round the side, but it crashed into him and caught his legs. He went under and he just hit the floor.”

She went on “It got his legs, his legs were buckled and broken. He tried to get out of the way, he tried. He tried to jump round the side but it caught his leg and smashed into him.”

She was giving evidence at the start of the trial of Brendan Thomson.

Mr Thomson, of Mayflower Road in Dunstable, pleads not guilty to murdering Mr Pradier at around 4.20pm on Friday September 29 last year.

Mr Pradier, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene, which was close to his home in Southwood Road, Dunstable.

Outlining the case to the jury, prosecutor Denis Barry said the defendant deliberately drove his car at Paul Pradier, causing multiple head injuries from which he died.

He said: “There is unlikely to be much dispute in this case that Mr Thomson’s car hit Mr Pradier.

“There was an incident a few minutes before near a parade of shops, which seems to have triggered an argument. It is not absolutely clear what it was about and, in any event, nothing would justify the way in which Mr Pradier was driven at later.

“Both men drove from the Downside Newsagent’s in separate vehicles to the place where the murder took place. The prosecution’s case is that Mr Pradier was chased at speed by Mr Thomson. That is certainly the evidence of Mr Pradier’s girlfriend Joanne Hobbins.”

“She was in Mr Pradier’s van during the drive from Downside Newsagent’s to the junction of Southwood Road and Jardine Way.”

The video recorded interview that Miss Hobbins gave detectives following the death of her boyfriend was played to the jury.

In it she told how, on that Friday, in the early afternoon, she had gone to see her boyfriend who was a roof tiler, in The Highwayman pub in Dunstable where he was having a drink with a work mate.

She said she had two alcopops in the pub before they left to go to the shops where she wanted to buy dog food.

Miss Hobbins said it was as they came out of the shop that they found themselves in an argument with Mr Thomson who had parked his car outside the shop as well.

She said her boyfriend didn’t want a fight and they got into his van and he drove away from the scene.

But she said, her boyfriend realised Mr Thomson was behind them.

“Paul was saying ‘He’s following me, he’s following me, he’s going to do something,” she said.

Miss Hobbins said “I just kept telling him stop, please stop and he said I can’t, he’s following me, I can’t.”

She continued “I said please stop, you’re going too fast. It was at least fifty.”

The witness decscribed her boyfriend as being angry with what was happening and not the sort to back down.

She went on “He’ll fight to the death like he did do. He was a very strong man and very strong willed.”

Miss Hobbins said after the other car struck the rear of their car, her boyfriend pulled up and they got out.

She said the Megane had mounted the verge to strike her boyfriend.

“I was just screaming, I was hysterical. I was screaming ‘Help him, help him!’”

She went on “I was saying Paul baby, wake up, wake up, wake up baby. Everyone came from everywhere.”

Case proceeding