Chesterfield murder trial: Victim could have died after he jumped on car and fell off and banged his head, jury told

A Chesterfield man at the centre of a murder trial died as a result of head injuries but could have fallen from the vehicle that allegedly ran him over after he jumped onto it, a court heard.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 4:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 4:07 pm

Andrew Thorpe died days after he was struck by a car being driven by pensioner John Hodgkiss, on Rotherham Road, Clowne, around the corner from his home in Barlborough Road in the early hours of July 26, 2019, prosecutors allege.

Hodgkiss, 68, denies both murder and the alternative charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Yesterday, Monday, February 15, Derby Crown Court heard that the 32-year-old died as a result of head injuries after hitting his head on the ground.

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Derby Crown Court, where John Hodgkiss is on trial for murder

But giving evidence to the jury, Home Office pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton said that science could not establish whether Hodgkiss had deliberately driven at Mr Thorpe, or whether the Barlborough man had jumped onto the car, and fallen from it, as the defence claims.

Dr Hamilton, who carried out the post-mortem examination on Mr Thorpe after he died in hospital six days after the collision, said he died as a result of a “blunt force” injury to the back of his head - consistent with him hitting his head on the ground.

But he said that other injuries on his body were relatively minor and were not consistent with him being hit at high speed, when cross-examined by the defence.

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“How he ended up in the position he did prior to the impact is not something pathology can tell us,” he told the court.

Previously, the court had been told that Mr Thorpe, along with his older brother Nicholas, had been returning a trailer to Hodgkiss’ home, after he had purchased it from his younger sister Amy, who was in an on-off relationship with the defendant’s son, Shane.

There had been “bad blood” between the two families for around six weeks prior to Mr Thorpe’s death after the relationship faltered, the court had previously heard.

And in the days leading up to the incident, Shane Hodgkiss had intimidated the Thorpe family by performing wheel-spins in his red Mini outside of homes, and had sent a number of messages to the deceased, one stating, “You and your family are going to get wiped out.”

Matters had come to ahead when Amy Thorpe and Shane Hodgkiss had demanded the return of the trailer so they could go on holiday, the court heard.

Earlier in the trial, Nicholas Thorpe had described how, as they got to Clowne, Shane Hodgekiss had called after them, and Andrew Thorpe had chased after him, the pair of them disappearing over a fence on Rotherham Road.

When he had returned, they saw Shane Hodgkiss’ car parked on the side of the road, and Andrew Thorpe caused damage to both wing mirrors and had threatened to smash the windows. He then gathered two hands full of pebbles from the wall of a nearby garden.

Nicholas Thorpe said his brother was in the act of throwing the stones at Hodgkiss’ car at the time of the collision.

Describing the incident, he had said: “It was like a racing car driver. You could hear the engine over-revving. It didn’t slow down at all.”

The trial continues.

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