Killer car thief to serve 16 years
A THIEF who ran over and killed a pensioner who tried to stop him taking his car on a drunken joyride was yesterday ordered to spend at least 16 years in jail.
Scott Couch, 23, said he was ashamed that his actions killed Walter Bollen, 76, but he had not intended to run him over as he made an escape in his car.
Mr Bollen, a retired Rolls-Royce engineer, died from massive crush injuries to his chest and a fractured skull after he was run over by his Skoda Octavia in November last year.
Couch was found guilty of murder at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday. When he gave evidence, he told the jury he had stolen the car for a joyride and thought he had driven over a kerb, not a body.
Couch had drunk nine pints of lager and nine shots of sambuca in a pub, before having a row with his girlfriend and leaving her there.
Meanwhile, Mr Bollen had returned to his home in Bristol shortly before midnight, after an evening of sequence dancing.
He got out of his car to open a set of gates to the car park, leaving the driver's door open and the keys in the ignition as he tapped in the security code.
As he did so, Couch walked into the street, near his mother's house, saw the open car and leaped into the driver's seat.
Mr Bollen rushed back to the car to drag him out.
Couch, who did not have a driving licence, said he had never driven an automatic car and could not get it into reverse gear. He was struggling with his other hand to stop Mr Bollen from opening the door, as he could not find the lock.
The door flung open and the car lurched into reverse. It is thought Mr Bollen was thrown to the ground, but Couch said he did not see him.
The Hon Mrs Justice Cox imposed a mandatory life sentence and ruled his minimum term was 16 years.
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