Jail for Carnforth car hijacker who mowed down cyclist

John Burns.
John Burns.

A man who stole a car from Carnforth then crashed it into a cyclist leaving him with life-threatening injuries has been jailed for nine-and-a-half years.

John Edward Burns admitted two counts of blackmail, theft, fraud and causing serious injury by dangerous driving

Burns stole a black VW Polo from Truckhaven Services after threatening its female occupant and forcing her to get out of the car.

He then drove the car to Ulverston and knocked down a cyclist while being chased by police.

Jack Talbot spent 13 days in an induced coma and underwent life-saving surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

Burns had stolen the car after demanding the woman in the driver’s seat get out while she was parked at Truckhaven at around 12.20pm on July 26.

He said: “I’m telling you now get out or I’ll hurt you.”

Burns, of Sycamore Drive, Manchester, then drove off in the car.

Half an hour earlier, Burns had tried to hijack a car at Forton services near Lancaster.

A woman was in the front passenger seat of a Range Rover at Forton when Burns opened the door to the car, got into the driver’s seat and threatened her.

He then demanded the car keys, saying he had a ‘blade’. However, the woman did not have the car keys – they were with her father inside the services.

Burns then fled, getting back into his own Ford Transit van and driving away.

A statement from Cumbria Police said: “At 3.15pm, the stolen car was spotted parked in Ulverston Leisure Centre car park by an officer. The officer approached the car but it sped off at speed.

“Five minutes later, the car passed two officers heading towards Hill Fall. The officers turned their car around in an attempt to follow the vehicle which was seen swerving, driving on the wrong side of the road and travelling at around 50mph.

“The officers were around 100m behind the car when it went out of view, rounding a bend at the corner of Lightburn Park.

“When the officers themselves made the turn they found a cyclist lying on the ground and stopped to assist as the car continued driving away, heading up Park Road.

“Witnesses said the cyclist was hit as he crossed the junction between Well Lane and Park Road. The impact threw the cyclist around 30 feet into the air and he came to rest some 40 feet from the initial collision, being seen to land on his head and face. His bicycle was snapped in two.”

Mr Talbot was air-lifted to hospital.

The abandoned VW Polo was located shortly after he mowed down Mr Talbot. Inside was a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey and John Burns’ driving licence. He was later arrested.

Superintendent Rob O’Connor said: “I vowed at the time we would arrest and prosecute the person responsible for the horrific injuries suffered by Mr Talbot.

“However, we had to be guarded about the amount of information we released to ensure to part of the investigation or future prosecution was jeopardised. At the time of the incident, I was aware that the public were frustrated by this. However, we knew from the outset who we were relooking for, and were working very closely with Greater Manchester Police, as well as deploying officers from Cumbria to Manchester to detain Burns.

“Thankfully...Mr Talbot is making a good recovery, and I wish him all the very best with regards to his ongoing recuperation.”