A businessman hunted down three boys who he thought had been playing with his boat and deliberately drove his car at them as they walked along a pavement.
Adrian Bowen hit two of the boys with his SUV, sending one rolling onto the bonnet of his vehicle before falling to the floor. The children ran off – but one of them was so frightened by the incident he hid in a nearby ditch as he thought the defendant was still in the area looking for them.
Bowen denied colliding with the youngsters, and said he had only gone after them to talk to them and perhaps to perform a citizen’s arrest. He was convicted at trial last month of dangerous driving.
The 46-year-old returned to the dock of Swansea Crown Court on Tuesday to be sentenced.
The court heard the incident took place on July 1, 2020, and began with Bowen looking out of the window of his Mumbles home and noticing three three young boys – all aged under 15 – near his dingy which was on a trailer parked on the private road outside. One of the boys tripped and fell onto the boat and “pushed” himself off it, which Bowen misinterpreted as the boy rocking the boat on its trailer. The boys saw they were being watched and gave “I didn’t do anything”-type gestures with their arms and shoulders which the defendant interpreted as the youngsters goading him.
The court heard that with that an “enraged” Bowen ran out of the house shouting at the boys, and chased them along the road. He then returned home, got into his Honda 4×4, and went to look for the boys. The defendant found the youngsters a short distance away walking along the pavement on Plunch Lane near Mumbles Cricket Club. Bowen then deliberately mounted the kerb and went across the grass verge separating the road from the pavement and drove towards the boys – he hit one on boys from behind causing him to fall backwards onto the bonnet of his SUV and then onto the floor, and caught another of the boys a glancing blow on the leg with the corner of his vehicle. The children ran off, and one of them was so frightened he hid in ditch for some time as he was concerned Bowen was still driving around the area looking for them.
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One of the boys suffered abrasions on his legs and a tender back in the collision, and the other had a swollen knee.
During his trial Bowen denied he had lost his temper on the day in question, and said he went after the boys because he wanted to talk to them and possibly perform a citizen’s arrest. He denied his vehicle had made contact with the boys at any stage of the incident.
Adrian Bowen, of Michael’s Field, Mumbles, Swansea, was convicted of dangerous driving. He has one previous conviction for being drunk and disorderly from 1999, and has a clean driving licence.
In impact statements which were read to the court by prosecutor Ashanti-Jade Walton, the youngsters described how shocked and frightened they were by the incident, and said they were still trying to come to terms with it. One said he still panics when he hears a car revving its engine around him, and another said he is receiving counselling. Two of them have since left the area, and in his statement one of the boys said he was lonely and was trying to make new friends at his new school.
Huw Davies, for Bowen, said in a pre-sentence report the defendant had accepted his reaction to the boat incident had been “inappropriate”, and he said in his submission the behaviour seen on the day in question – now some 21 months ago – was “completely out of character” for his client. The barrister said Bowen lived with his long-term partner and daughter in their own home and also had employees who worked for him in his business, and he was concerned about the impact on others if a sentence of immediate custody were imposed.
Recorder Aidan Eardley described what Bowen did in July 2020 as a “seriously dangerous manoeuvre”. He said though it was a short manoeuvre done at what must have been a relatively slow speed it was never-the-less incident an “aggressive” one in which the defendant had deliberately driven at the boys and collided with them, and whether Bowen had intended to hit them or not there had clearly been a high risk of him doing so. The recorder said while the physical injuries were limited there had been a “lasting psychological affect” for the teenagers.
He said he accepted the incident had been out of character for the defendant and had been a “strange reaction” on his part, and he said he had carefully read the pre-sentence report as well as letters written to court including one by an employee and one by the secretary of the residents’ association for the street where Bowen lived. The recorder said the offending was so serious it crossed the custody threshold but the pre-sentence report had concluded the defendant posed a low risk of re-offending and, given everything he had read about the defendant, in his view an immediate custodial sentence was not the only way of marking the gravity of the offending.
Bowen was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to complete a rehabilitation course and 50 hours unpaid work in the community. He was banned from driving for 12 months, and must pass an extended test before he can get his licence back.
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