Drunk driver who ran stepmum over three times during wedding fight jailed

A drunk driver who ran over his stepmother three times following a fight at a family wedding has been jailed.

Ben Ashman was sent to prison for six years after driving his Vauxhall Grandland at guests at his stepbrother’s wedding. He had got into a row when his girlfriend said she did not like the way someone was looking at her.

Ashman, 37, had originally faced an attempted murder charge for the injuries he caused to Kathryn Ashman, but the charge was reduced when the prosecution accepted that running her over was unintentional, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Ashman, of Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, was at the Bowburn Hotel in Durham last August to celebrate the wedding of his stepbrother Connor. Around midnight, when several people were drunk, Ashman got into a fight after his girlfriend, Shea Redhead, told him she did not like the way someone had looked at her.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said Ashman left the hotel after others broke up the fight, but he got into a further altercation with his stepbrother Kyle.

His girlfriend grappled with his stepmother, who had been disturbed by the commotion and came out of her hotel room in her nightgown.

A witness saw the defendant grab his stepmother and say: ‘If you touch my lass again, I’ll f kill you’.

The defendant was also heard to threaten: ‘I’ll splat everyone here.’

When stepbrother Kyle intervened, the defendant knocked him to the floor twice.

When a female friend of his girlfriend tried to calm her down, Ashman ran over and punched her, then got into his Vauxhall SUV.

The female friend tried to grab his keys and he slammed his car door on her arm.

Kyle Ashman then grabbed a rock and threw it at the windscreen, causing it to shatter but not break.

Ben Ashman drove round the car park dangerously, towards guests, and deliberately towards Kyle Ashman, stopping just as the bumper hit his shins.

The defendant drove his car into the female friend’s Nissan Juke, severely damaging it.

He then knocked over his stepmother, reversed over her, then pulled forward with her under the vehicle, before he sped off over grass and out of the car park, leaving her covered in blood.

He drove off down the A1 with his girlfriend, stopping his damaged vehicle on the hard shoulder around seven miles away, where a stranger stopped to help.

Mr Perks said Ashman told the driver: ‘Cheers, mate, thanks for stopping. I have just had a fight with nine people, they started pelting our lass with bricks so I ran three of the bastards over.

‘You would do it is it was your girlfriend.’

The witness described Ashman as being ‘gone with the wind’ and 10 out of 10 drunk.

The emergency services were called to the hotel and Mrs Ashman was taken to hospital with a fractured eye socket, six broken ribs and cuts.

In a victim statement, she said she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, continued facial numbness and has suffered from panic attacks.

Ashman admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, common assault, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to his stepbrother, dangerous driving and criminal damage.

Lewis Kerr, defending, said Ashman felt remorse, anguish and sorrow at what he had done.

Since those events, his girlfriend has given birth to twins but he has not seen them because he has been held on remand without visitors due to the Covid-19 regulations.

Judge Robert Adams accepted that the defendant’s mental health issues made him impulsive and the medication he took reacted with the alcohol he had drunk.

He said the defendant could have killed his stepmother, adding: ‘You were clearly suffering a loss of control, in a rage, unable to see what was around you.’