Harborough man accused of attempted murder of Rugby salesman denies charge

Court news. NNL-160706-163936001
Court news. NNL-160706-163936001

A Harborough man accused of attempted murder after allegedly running over a Rugby car salesman has denied the charge.

John Tuff, 36, of Symington Way, Market Harborough, pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the attempted murder of salesman David Wagstaff who suffered horrific injuries during the incident in Wolvey in January.

The court heard because the trial cannot take place on a suggested date in October, it is now unlikely to be heard until January next year.

Tuff also denied an alternative charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Wagstaff with intent to cause him serious injury.

In addition, he pleaded not guilty to conspiring with another man, Matthew Barker, to steal motor vehicles between December 27 last year and January 17.

Barker, 44, also of Symington Way, Market Harborough, should have been with Tuff in the dock to face the conspiracy charge.

But prosecutor Anthony Potter explained that he had not been brought from the prison where he is on remand because he was unwell.

The incident followed Mr Wagstaff, a car salesman at a dealership in Rugby, being contacted by someone asking to take a VW Transporter van for a test drive.

It was arranged that Mr Wagstaff, who was said to live in north Warwickshire, would pick up the potential customer from the Pheasant pub in Withybrook.

He did so, and then drove the blue Transporter to Galliford Try Construction’s premises off Leicester Road, Wolvey, where it is said Mr Wagstaff got out to swap seats.

It is alleged that after moving across into the driver’s seat, Tuff locked the van doors, preventing the salesman getting back in, and drove off.

Mr Wagstaff was said to have been struck by the van and dragged along the road for about ten yards, suffering severe injuries to his body, head, back and leg.

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed that in the pre-trial preparation document it says there was ‘no intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm.’

Confirming Tuff’s defence, his barrister Barnaby Shaw explained: “He’s saying ‘I caused the injuries by driving the vehicle, but I didn’t mean to run him over.’”

He added that Tuff also accepts some vehicle thefts, but not as part of a conspiracy.

Judge Lockhart pointed out the ‘custody time limit,’ the period of time defendants can be held in custody before standing trial, expires on November 22.

He said the trial of the two men, which is expected to last up to six days, could be listed on October 23 – but was told a necessary witness would not be available that week.

The judge said that, taking into account the availability of the defence barristers, the trial could not then be heard until some time in January.

But he pointed out: “I can’t put it outside the custody time limit without the consent of all parties, and that cannot be given today because one defendant is not here.”

So he adjourned the case to ‘work towards a trial in January,’ subject to an application to extend the custody time limits being agreed at a further hearing.

Judge Lockhart, who remanded Tuff in custody, added that Barker should also be arraigned at that hearing via a video link from the prison.