Harrogate man causes £16,000 worth of damage in lorry rampage

Daniel Hardcastle, 36, smashed the scaffolder truck into the expensive gates in leafy Kings Grove.
Daniel Hardcastle, 36, smashed the scaffolder truck into the expensive gates in leafy Kings Grove.

A scaffolder rammed his lorry into a couple’s electric gates before crashing into parked cars in his works van as he rampaged through the streets of Harrogate.

Daniel Hardcastle, 36, smashed the scaffolder truck into the “expensive” gates in leafy Kings Grove. The shocked female householder, who was in the kitchen, heard a “loud bang” and rushed out onto the drive, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Rob Galley said the victim, who was named, remonstrated with Hardcastle, who was still in the driver’s seat of the flat-bed lorry.

He said Hardcastle patently had “enough space to get past without any collision”.

Hardcastle, who had a “glazed expression”, was told to reverse off the gate. He did so but told the victim: “Rich people shouldn’t have electric gates.”

“It was also noted that he was mumbling and slurring (his words),” added Mr Galley.

The male front-seat passenger - who also had “glazed” eyes - told her the matter would be reported to their bosses at a Harrogate scaffolding business as the woman called her husband.

He turned up at the scene and saw the vehicle in adjoining Chatsworth Grove, where the passenger got out and ran off.

The husband, who was also named, tried to get hold of Hardcastle while he was sat in the driver’s seat and tried to grab the keys.

“He took hold of (Hardcastle’s) shirt, but the defendant drove off,” said Mr Galley. “He followed the vehicle in his car.”

Hardcastle turned onto Dixon Road, then Bilton Drive, Dawson Terrace, the A59 Skipton Road and Knapping Hill, colliding with “15-to-20 parked cars” along the way, according to his pursuer.

Vehicles in the “busy” residential streets were either shunted or “rammed down the road” and wing mirrors were knocked askew.

“The (defendant) didn’t seem to be able to steer properly,” said Mr Galley. “He was turning corners (and colliding with) parked vehicles and hit a telegraph pole.”

Another witness said he saw vehicle parts being dragged along the road by the wagon and sparks coming off the truck. The front end of the lorry was damaged including a wing mirror.

Hardcastle finally brought the truck to a halt in a car park in Roberts Crescent. Police were called and he was arrested.

A subsequent blood test showed he was over the drug-drive limit. A cocaine derivative was found in his system but Hardcastle claimed it was diazepam. Although he had been drinking, he was under the alcohol limit.

At least eight vehicles - including a Mazda and a Peugeot that was written off - were damaged during Hardcastle’s antics. The estimated total damage to the vehicles was put at just over £16,600. The couple’s electric gates had also suffered “significant” damage.

Police found empty cans of lager inside the wagon, said Mr Galley.

Hardcastle, of Osborne Walk, Harrogate, told police he had had a “very-heavy” weekend’s drinking in the run-up to the incident at about 5pm on October 29 last year following the breakdown of his relationship with his former partner.

He said he had gone into work on the Monday morning and taken a few diazepam tablets at lunchtime rather than cocaine.

“He said he had drunk some lager at about 4.30pm and was feeling odd,” added Mr Galley.

Hardcastle appeared for sentence on Friday after pleading guilty to dangerous driving. The Crown did not pursue further charges of drug-driving or failing to stop as it was all part of Hardcastle’s reckless behaviour.

The father-of-two had four previous convictions, mainly for public disorder and criminal damage. In 2012 he was given a suspended prison sentence for affray.

Defence barrister Peter Minnikin said Hardcastle’s driving antics occurred at a time when he had “particular family problems”.

Judge Simon Hickey condemned Hardcastle for an “extremely-poor piece of driving” that was “probably due to a combination of drink and drugs” and put many people at risk.

He jailed Hardcastle for 10 months and gave him a three-year driving ban.