A THREE-year-old boy fell out of a truck and disappeared under it when the passenger door flew open while navigating a Rugby traffic island – to the horror of onlookers.
Driver Brian Medcraft jumped from the cab and scooped the badly-injured boy up in his arms, put him back inside and drove off before being stopped by police.
He was charged with causing serious injury to the boy by dangerous driving in the defective truck, which he denied.
At a hearing shortly before his trial at Warwick Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of child cruelty by neglecting the boy’s safety.
Medcraft, 46, of Franklin Close, Rugby, was sentenced to eight weeks in jail suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 175 hours of unpaid work and pay £125 costs after the court heard the boy made a full recovery.
Prosecutor Jennifer Josephs said that in December 2015 people near the Tesco roundabout in Leicester Road saw the door of the Renault flatbed truck fly open as it went round the island.
“To their horror, a small child fell from the truck to the floor and under the lorry, which was not going at a great speed, and Mr Medcraft was able to stop within a vehicle’s length.
“He got out of the cab in a panic before pulling the boy from under the vehicle.
“He lifted the boy back into the vehicle and immediately drove off, once again with the child unrestrained, and witnesses called the police.”
A few minutes later, officers saw Medcraft reversing the truck down the hard shoulder of the slip-road leading onto the M6 northbound.
When he was questioned, he lied about how the boy had been injured, claiming he had fallen out when the truck had stopped.
He explained he reversed up the slip road when he realised it would be quicker to head to Rugby’s St Cross Hospital than Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.
The boy, who had a broken tooth and was bleeding from both nostrils, was rushed to hospital where a scan revealed he had suffered a broken skull.
And although he was admitted for observation, no surgery was required, and he was discharged with the prognosis of a full recovery.
The truck, which had no MoT, had 18 faults including a damaged seatbelt, corroded brakes and locks which only intermittently secured the doors.
Medcraft, who was not insured to drive it, said he borrowed the truck to test-drive it with a view to buying it.
Miss Josephs said Medcraft, who had convictions for dishonesty and was jailed in 2005 for supplying class A drugs, had entered his plea on the basis he had driven the truck with the child unsecured on the passenger seat.
The passenger seatbelt could not be fastened because the other end was wedged down the seat, and was almost sheared through.
Miss Josephs said that should have alerted Medcraft to the fact it was in a poor state of repair.
And although he was not aware of the defective locks, he had been reckless by driving with the child unsecured.
David Everett, defending, said although Medcraft had a bad background, there had been ‘a dramatic improvement in recent years,’ and he was the breadwinner for his family.
“The door opened unexpectedly. It could be closed, but was liable to open at any moment. He was not aware of that, but he accepts the child was unrestrained in the vehicle.
“There was never any indication of dangerous driving. It was at low speed, such that he was able to stop within a vehicle’s length,” added Mr Everett.
Sentencing Medcraft, Recorder David Chinery told him: “I am sure that since this incident it has been on your mind that, serious as the injuries to this little boy were, they could have been much more serious, or even fatal, if he had fallen under the wheels.
“The reality is that you allowed a three-year-old child to sit in the front seat without proper child seating and unrestrained.
“That is the real failure on your part.
“Because there was no proper seating and he was unrestrained, an emergency stop in such circumstances could also have caused an injury to this child.”