Harrogate prestige car salesman jailed after hit-and-run left man with 'devastating injuries'

A car-sales supremo has been jailed for running over a 58-year-old man in his BMW, causing devastating injuries.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 3:37 pm

Alexander Melville, 42 - an internationally-recognised, award-winning salesman of prestige cars who was banned from driving at the time - was said to be lighting a cigarette just before the BMW veered onto a pavement and struck unsuspecting pedestrian Richard Selby, who “flew into the air” before landing on the pavement.

As the stricken man lay flat out on the footpath beside Knaresborough Road, Melville “casually” collected his belongings from the car and walked off, York Crown Court heard.

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Alexander Melville was sentenced to five months in jail at York Crown Court.

Witnesses called 999 and Mr Selby - who suffered a catalogue of “terrible” injuries - was taken to hospital where he underwent a series of operations including surgery to have pins inserted into his broken leg.

Melville later handed himself in at Harrogate Police Station after seeing police social-media appeals for information about the accident and the identity of the driver.

Prosecutor Mohammed Khan said that after colliding with Mr Selby, the BMW struck a wall and rebounded after inexplicably veering to the left.

The collision occurred at about 8.45am on January 26, just after Melville had been to a garage to inflate the tyres on the “training” vehicle, which was unregistered and uninsured.

“A witness said he heard a loud noise of an engine revving,” said Mr Khan.

“A car then accelerated up the hill…and swerved slightly left. Seconds later, he heard a loud bang and…saw debris and dust and the vehicle go backwards. He noticed (someone) laid on the pavement.”

The witness saw a man reaching into the BMW to “get some items out and then walk towards Knaresborough Road and off onto Rydal Road”.

“Another witness said he saw a vehicle coming towards the pavement at speed and then someone flying into the air and lying 10ft away from him,” added Mr Khan.

Mr Selby’s injuries included a double fracture of the leg, a dislocated shoulder and a fracture of the shinbone at the knee joint. Such was the extent of his injuries that, eight months on from the accident, he still can’t walk unaided or without the help of crutches, and he now relied on home carers.

“He’s requiring weekly district-nursing care and physiotherapy,” said Mr Khan.

The horrific injuries had been aggravated by infections which required further treatment and medication.

Melville, of Roseville Drive, Harrogate, told police he had had the BMW for about a year but that it wasn’t insured and “wasn’t registered to anyone as it was used as a training vehicle”.

The much-vaunted car salesman had been disqualified from driving last year by magistrates in Lincolnshire.

He appeared for sentence on Tuesday after pleading guilty to causing serious injury by careless driving, driving while disqualified, having no insurance, failing to stop after a road crash and failing to report an accident.

Richard Reed, for Melville, said his client had lost his job at Audi following his disqualification. He had previously been the “best-performing salesman” for the Sytner motor group, the UK’s leading retailer of prestige cars.

Prior to that, he was a star performer at Metropolis Motorcycles, from whom he received a lifetime achievement award in Japan in 2015 for being their top salesman.

After losing his licence, Melville fell on hard times financially because his work required being able to drive.

As a result, “he lost his fiancée, the marriage was cancelled, he had no income and (was) left with a house with a (big) mortgage,” added Mr Reed.

He plunged further into debt after taking out a loan and credit cards and ended up on benefits.

Mr Reed said that Melville had planned to sell the BMW to meet some of his spiralling financial debts.

Just before the accident, he had “lit a cigarette in the car (and) noticed he had slightly veered over the other lane”.

“He corrected it and then the car went into a spin,” said Mr Reed.

Melville, an experienced driver, was “adamant” that he was fit to drive and “couldn’t explain” how his car had left the road.

Mr Reed added: “He knows he shouldn’t have been driving while disqualified but (there was) a financial imperative for him to do that to meet his financial (debts), which were mounting. Up until now, all his employment has involved being able to drive cars and bikes.”

Judge Sean Morris told Melville: “Richard Selby was (simply) walking along the Harrogate road. People heard an engine revving.

“For whatever reason, you careered off the road, mounted the pavement, collided with your victim, hurling him into the air and shattering his body.

“You are very lucky he survived – that man could have been dead or could have been paraplegic. To make matters worse…you casually collected your belongings and strode off, leaving injury, mayhem, behind you.

“That unfortunate man has…received terrible injuries and his life has been changed as a consequence - (just) because you wanted to sell a car.”

Mr Morris added: “Walking off from an accident is shameful.”

Jailing Melville for five months, the judge told him: “When people are mangled by disqualified drivers, (the drivers) must expect to go to prison immediately, although you are ordinarily a decent man.”

Melville was also given a two-year driving ban.