A Mercedes driver who ploughed into a ‘hero’ police officer as he tried to flee from armed police was jailed for almost 12 years today, Monday 21st December.
PC Lewis Crowder was trying to arrest Aydin Altun, 26, when he ‘gunned forward at speed’ in Tottenham, north London on 29 October last year (scroll down for video footage of the incident).
The brave officer jumped in front of the black Mercedes and told Aydin and his passengers to show their hands.
The car had been flagged down by PC Crowder and two colleagues, in connection with a shooting in a residential street the previous evening.
But Altun tried to escape by driving at PC Crowder, who desperately clung onto the car’s bonnet as he was sent ‘hurtling’ down the road.
He was thrown from the vehicle in severe pain and lapsed in and out of consciousness as several members of the public rushed to his aid before his colleagues arrived on the scene.
Altun later abandoned the Mercedes in a driveway on Tiverton Road, Tottenham.
Jurors cleared Altun of involvement in the firearms incident which sparked the police investigation but convicted him of attempted GBH with intent.
The Old Bailey jury also cleared Altun of attempting to murder PC Crowder after 14 hours and 49 minutes of deliberation.
Giving evidence PC Crowder, an armed response officer for five years had told the court ‘I could see the driver’s hands. They were on the steering wheel.
‘As I cleared the front of the bonnet, I saw the driver turn his steering wheel towards me. I was thrown onto the bonnet of the car. I remember being scared for my life; I thought I was going to die.
‘I remember thinking: “If this car was going to crash, I was going to die.” I can’t remember clearly whether I was hanging on the bonnet. I do remember my hand touching where the bonnet meets the windscreen.’
Martin Bowyer, prosecuting, said: ‘He recovered because he was protected by the body armour police officers wear.’
Mr Bowyer said bystanders had looked on in horror as the officer was hit at speed.
‘The Mercedes slowed down to a halt and indicated to pull out on the opposite side of the road, parking outside a parade of shops,’ said Mr Bowyer.
‘At this moment PC Crowder felt he had no option but call an armed arrest. What followed after that was truly shocking.
‘No sooner was the car stopped that the car gunned forward at speed, throwing him on the bonnet of the vehicle leaving colleagues and bystanders both stunned.
‘PC Crowder clung onto the vehicle and saw Aydin Altun through the windscreen, and he recognised him from the image he had been shown earlier.
‘It was travelling well in excess of the speed limit and accelerating.’
The officer was thrown from the car which was later found abandoned with his phone wedged between the bonnet and the windscreen.
Chris Bertham, QC, defending, claimed Altun was attempting to escape because he feared for his life when confronted by an armed officer.
PC Crowder had been sent a photo of Altun and his father before the arrest so they could identify the suspects.
Bodycam footage from witness PC Lewis Petford showed PC Crowder saying it was ‘the younger one who was the driver’ as he lay on the ground pale and bleeding.
PC Petford told the court: ‘He went in and out of consciousness where he didn’t respond to what I said.’
Bearded Altun appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey today (Mon) and showed no emotion as the court heard how the ordeal had devastated PC Crowder’s family.
In a statement read to the court, the officer said: ‘The vehicle was being driven fast, and I could feel the roar of the engine as it drove faster.
‘I remember thinking that I was about to die, and I had a strong sense of helplessness as I was carried down the street.
‘I fully accepted that at this moment, I was about to die, and I would not see my family again. I was thrown off the vehicle.
‘My vision instantly went black, and I was completely disorientated. I do recall hitting my head with a slap on the concrete, which caused a ringing sensation.
‘I was bleeding from my arm and hand. I remember Pc Petford knelt above me and what struck me most was the expression on his face.
‘Lewis is an extremely calm and professional police officer, but it was clear to me he was in shock from what he had just witnessed.
‘My wife had been informed that I had been involved in an incident. My wife was upset and attempted to contact me. I managed to speak to my wife a couple of hours later. She was completely distraught and was crying.
‘She had been so worried… With all the different scenarios that had been running through her mind, which caused a great deal of anxiety and panic.
‘I had lost all movement in my left arm and hand. This was extremely debilitating, and I had to seek assistance from my wife to move around the house.
‘It was difficult for my eldest son, who is just eight years old to understand what was happening to me.
‘I was his hero, and now he could see I was hurt and in pain. He became sheltered and stopped speaking to us.
‘It was clear the incident had affected him too. He knows I am a police officer but it is still confusing for him.’
Passing sentence Judge Wendy Joseph QC said the driver had shown no remorse for anyone or anything but ‘his own predicament’ and had tried to blame the officers throughout the trial.
She accepted that there was a lack of planning but said the impact could have had ‘catastrophic’ consequences had the officer not found the ‘courage’ to throw himself off the car.
The judge said: ‘On the morning of 29 October 2019 armed response vehicle Trojan 102 was dispatched to the Edmonton area to look for a black Mercedes E-Class.
‘PC Petford was the driver PC Crowder was the frontside operator.
‘It was the sighting of this car on 29 October when officers were told to deploy weapons if necessary to force it to stop and extract the occupants of the Mercedes.
‘I reject Mr Altun’s evidence that he was completely unaware of the Trojan unit behind him and stopped only to let out his passenger.
‘Mr Altun pulled across the road. PC Petford tried to stop the Mercedes while PC Crowder ran… in front of the Mercedes pointing his rifle at the front seat passenger.
‘He brought his weapon into the offline position and applied the lever so that if he pulled the trigger, it would fire.
‘He shouted: “Armed police, show me your hands.”
‘The Mercedes drove into the officer, throwing him onto its bonnet. He didn’t fire because he couldn’t bring his weapon to bear safely and it wasn’t the right thing to so he didn’t have time to jump out of the way.
‘The car accelerated very rapidly down the street and decided the only way to save himself was to throw himself from the vehicle.
‘It was a decision he had to make in the midst of a terrible situation, and it may well have saved his life.
‘CCTV shows him hurtling down the road and onto the pavement. He was very fortunate to be wearing clothing… Designed to withstand a bullet.
The damage to his clothing shows how much more badly he might have been hurt had he not been protected.
‘As to Mr Altun’s course of driving, a forensic investigator calculated that in 20mph zone over 42.18 metres, the average speed was 39.1 to 39.6mph with parameters of 37 to 46mph.
‘His driving in that way must be regarded at the very least as the grossest recklessness, in which within a second had morphed into an intention to cause grievous bodily harm because having hit the police officer he continued to drive away as fast as he could.
‘Having struck him, drove off deliberately knowing the officer was clinging to the car accelerating as fast as he could, creating enormous danger not only to the officer but to all other road and pavement users in the vicinity.
‘He showed very little remorse for anyone or anything but his own predicament. He blamed others for the incident. Nothing about his conduct enforced that.
‘He is a wholly irresponsible road user and the public is entitled to be protected from him.’
The court heard career criminal Aytun has 26 convictions for 48 offences including possession of a bladed article and assault.
Aydin Altun, of Suffolk Road, Tottenham, was cleared of attempted murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life, and possessing 9mm short calibre without a firearms certificate.
He was convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm by a majority of ten to two and admitted dangerous driving on the day before his trial.
His mother Sutan Altun, 54, and sister Hanim Altun, 24, also of Suffolk Road, denied and were cleared of attempting to pervert the cause of justice.
It had been claimed the pair told police the Mercedes, registered in the name of Sutan’s husband and her children’s father Ali Altun, had been stolen.
Aydin Altun was sentenced to 11 years and nine months imprisonment.
He was disqualified from driving for a minimum of five years.
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