Police officer who was mowed down watches his attacker jailed
Police officer who was left fighting for life after prolific criminal mowed him down in hit-and-run watched in court as his attacker was jailed for more than seven years
- PC Christopher Burnham, 48, was mown down by Tekle Lennox, 37, last year
- The married father-of-one was carried 137ft on the bonnet of Lennox’s Mini
- He went into a coma and suffered a bleed on the brain and a fractured skull
A police officer feared dead in a horrific hit-and-run has today had the satisfaction of watching his attacker jailed for more than seven years.
PC Christopher Burnham, 48, was mown down by Tekle Lennox, 37, when he tried to apprehend the wanted domestic robbery suspect in the Holbrooks area of Coventry last September.
The married father-of-one was carried 137ft on the bonnet of Lennox’s Mini before being flung into the road in a critical condition.
He went into a week-long coma and suffered a bleed on the brain, a fractured skull and a shattered knee.
The West Midlands Force officer said his life has been ripped apart and he is ‘struggling to get back to the person I was’.
But he today watched on in Warwick Crown Court as Lennox was sentenced for seven years and four months after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to resist arrest.
Lennox was originally charged with attempted murder, driving while disqualified and without insurance but the prosecution accepted him pleading guilty to the lesser charge.
Lennox, of no fixed address, also admitted possession of cocaine, diamorphine and cannabis and driving a car without insurance.
He will be banned from driving for five years following his release from prison.
PC Christopher Burnham, 48, was mown down by Tekle Lennox, 37, (driving) when he tried to apprehend the wanted domestic robbery suspect in the Holbrooks area of Coventry last September (dashcam footage showing the moment prior to the hit-and-run)
The married father-of-one went into a week-long coma and suffered a bleed on the brain, a fractured skull and a shattered knee
PC Burnham (left) watched on in Warwick Crown Court as Lennox (right) was sentenced for seven years and four months after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to resist arrest
Sentencing, Judge Peter Cooke said: ‘You accept on September 25 you set in train a set of events which have led to Christoper Burnham’s life change, perhaps forever.
‘The impact on him has been profound. These events came about because you would not be stopped by police while at the wheel of the Mini.
‘He and his family have been through hell over the past few months.
‘You hit Mr Burnham and he was thrown up in the most horrific fashion and carried on down the road before he fell from the car.’
PC Burnham, who has served with West Midlands Police for 25 years, was hit in Holbrook Lane, Radford, Coventry at 2.45pm.
He had been driving when he spotted Lennox, wanted for domestic robbery, behind the wheel of the white Mini.
They tried to flag Lennox down but he sped away before getting stuck in traffic at a roundabout.
So PS Burnham jumped out of his car and sprinted over to Lennox, who veered right and headed back round the roundabout.
The officer moved to try to cut him off, and dashcam footage shows the horrifying moment Lennox crunched into him.
The Foleshill neighbourhood officer was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries after colleagues feared he had been killed in the smash.
Prosecutor Andrew Smith QC said PC Burnham and a colleague were aware Lennox was wanted by police over a domestic robbery when they recognised him behind the wheel of the vehicle.
PC Christopher Burnham arriving at Warwick Crown Court, Leamington Spa today to watch the sentencing
Impact damage to the mini which was rammed into PC Burnham, who was carried for 137ft
He told the court: ‘They recognised Mr Lennox and decided to stop the car.
‘There was no reaction by Mr Lennox. PC Lilley flashed the car lights and used the car horn, along with the lights and sirens. There was still no reaction.
‘There is no way Mr Lennox will not have noticed a car was following him. The Mini began to accelerate and had no intention of stopping.
‘The Mini became stuck in traffic at a roundabout. The police car was now behind the Mini. The reverse lights then came on. PC Burnham then jumped out the car.’
The court was shown harrowing video footage of the chase taken from the dashcam of a bystanders van which showed the moment the officer was mown down.
Mr Smith added: ‘PC Burnham was hit and carried along on the bonnet of the White Mini. There was no time for Mr Burnham to react or the defendant.
‘At no time did brake lights come on at any time.
‘Mr Lennox did not react as a normal driver would to the collision. He put his own concern to evade arrest before every other consideration.’
In a victim impact statement read to the court, PC Burnham said: ‘I am living day to day not knowing what the future will hold.
PC Burnham jumped out of his car to try to apprehend Lennox’s stopped Mini, but was mowed down as the attacker came back round the roundabout
PC Burnham, who has served with West Midlands Police for 25 years, was hit in Holbrook Lane, Radford, Coventry at 2.45pm
‘I am struggling to get back to the person I was.’
His wife, Claire Burnham, added: ‘Our 10-year-old son was fearful of seeing his dad.
‘He knew that Chris may have memory loss and he did not know how he would cope if his dad would not recognise him.’
The judge also read out a letter from Lennox which said: ‘I fully understand I have caused mental and physical trauma to a police officer.
‘I regret this. It was my fault entirely and I hope Police Officer Burnham and his family can forgive me.’
Bernard Tetlow QC, defending, said: ‘Mr Lennox expresses his regret and remorse at what happened.
‘He is very sorry for what happened on that day and for what he did to Mr Burnham. He accepts he was trying to evade arrest.
‘There was no intent to injure. He accepts it was reckless behaviour. He is not a violent offender.’
Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Phil Caldwell, said after the case: ‘The officers activated their patrol car’s blue lights and indicated for the driver to stop.
‘Lennox, knowing he was wanted and banned from driving, made off and struck PC Burnham as he ran around the island to try and stop him escaping.
‘The impact lifted the PC off his feet and he was carried on the bonnet for three seconds.
‘We estimated Lennox was travelling at around 21mph when he struck PC Burnham.
‘The officer suffered a very serious head injury and a shattered knee*we could easily have been looking at a murder enquiry.’
Speaking just before Christmas, PC Burnham said he’ll be ‘forever grateful’ to colleagues and medical staff who helped him.
He said he’s missing being on the beat in Foleshill and working with the Salvation Army to help vulnerable people in his patch.
Coventry Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Mike O’Hara, said: ‘Policing is like a close family and the injury Chris suffered had a real impact on all of us in Coventry.
‘There are many officers and staff in regular contact with Chris and his family and we continue to do all we can to ensure he has the best support possible.
‘Policing is a hugely rewarding job, helping people in need and striving to make people’s lives better. But there are highs and lows and it remains a difficult and dangerous job.
‘Chris has served the people of Coventry brilliantly over many years and I really hope that we will see him patrolling his patch in Foleshill soon.’
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said previously: ‘My thoughts are with Chris, his family and friends following this this atrocious act.
‘Every day our brave officers put themselves at risk to keep us safe and go towards danger when the rest of us run away.
‘Chris has spent the past 25 years protecting the people of the West Midlands and is a dedicated neighbourhood officer, embedded in the community he serves.
‘I am sure that the public will join me in total revulsion at this crime and share my thanks to our brave and dedicated officers and staff who put themselves in danger every day.’
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