A teenager left a trail of destruction after racing around a busy car park in a stolen taxi with a passenger still on board, in events that could lead to whiplash compensation.
Whiplash claims could be undertaken by the a terrified pensioner sitting in the back, a youth court was told yesterday – according to reports in local newspaper The Northern Echo.
The 14 year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, caused about £15,000 in damage after smashing into 12 cars at the Tesco Extra Store, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
He leapt into the car and drove off after the driver got out to check the boot was closed properly.
The 77 year-old passenger, Una Paylor, screamed at the boy to stop, magistrates sitting in Peterlee were told this week.
She was taken to hospital with whiplash injuries, which could now see her pursue motor accident compensation for the ordeal she suffered.
Prosecutors, said the taxi driver, Trudy Linsley, had gone to the store, in the town’s Greenwell Road, to pick up Mrs Paylor and her husband, shortly after 2.40pm on August 24 2011.
The husband had been putting groceries in the boot and, as Mrs Paylor got into the car and her husband returned the trolley, Ms Linsley had got out to close the boot properly.
The Northern Echo reports that "in a second", the youth jumped in and drove off at speed. Ms Linsley ran after the taxi in a panic and tried to stop it. She saw it crash into the side of car being parked in a bay and then driven towards her. The youth continued driving around the car park, damaging 12 cars.
At one point, at a mini-roundabout near the exit, the taxi turned back into the car park at more than 30mph and across a section of car park regularly used by pedestrians. A number of children were leaving the store at the time. The youth ran off, but was caught by a member of staff. The boy later told police he was unaware that Mrs Paylor was in the back when he took the taxi.
The legal team representing the youth, conceded there was "little mitigation" it could offer. The youth pleaded guilty to aggravating vehicle taking, dangerous driving, failing to stop after an accident and related motoring offences. He was disqualified from driving until he takes an extended test.