Chesterfield murder trial: Proceedings delayed because defendant was too ill to give evidence in his own defence

The trial of a Derbyshire man accused of murder had to be adjourned when the defendant became unwell.

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 12:08 pm

John Hodgkiss was due to give evidence in his own defence at Derby Crown Court on Friday, February 19, but the jury were told that he has a long-standing illness and he was deemed not well enough to take to the stand.

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.

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

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.

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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 told the court that Hodgkiss had driven at speed at his brother.

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 and Andrew hit his head on the windscreen and flipped over in the air a couple of times.”

But later evidence from crash investigators suggested that the vehicle had not been travelling at speed.

Home Office pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton also said that the injuries Andrew Thorpe sustained were consistent with him jumping onto the vehicle, falling off and banging his head on the floor - which had led to the brain injuries which killed him six days later.

Dr Hamilton also said that the other minor injuries that Mr Thorpe sustained were not consistent with a high-speed collision, but that pathology could not help with events that took place immediately prior to the collision.

Proceedings are expected to resume on Monday.

The trial continues.

Editor’s message: In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.