Thief who nearly killed Upminster courier after driving over him in his own van admits crimes

Willsher was seen wiping his fingers from the van before fleeing

Willsher was seen wiping his fingers from the van before fleeing - Credit: Archant

A thief, who stole and then ran over a delivery driver with his own van leaving his victim for dead, is facing jail after admitting his part in the crime.

Mr Fletcher was critically ill in hospital for weeks

Mr Fletcher was critically ill in hospital for weeks - Credit: Archant

Leonard Willsher, 41, pleaded guilty to several offences that left 58-year-old self-employed courier David Fletcher, from Upminster, in a coma.

Mr Fletcher was run over by his own van when Willsher and another man tried to steal it

Mr Fletcher was run over by his own van when Willsher and another man tried to steal it - Credit: Archant

Mr Fletcher, a dad-of-three, was making deliveries in Wood Avenue, Purfleet, Essex, on July 9, when two men jumped into his lorry and tried to drive off.

The men had tried to make off with Mr Fletcher's van

The men had tried to make off with Mr Fletcher's van - Credit: Archant

He chased them, attempting to grab the keys through the driver’s window, but was dragged along the road for around 10 metres before being pushed in the face by Willsher, who then drove over him.

Mr Fletcher suffered serious multiple injuries and spent weeks in intensive care.


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Willsher, from The Fremnells, Basildon pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle-taking and driving whilst disqualified, last week at Basildon Crown Court,

He is due to be sentenced in January 2014.

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Senior Investigating Officer Det Ch Insp Lucy Robinson said: “Leonard Willsher was an opportunist thief who stole Mr Fletcher’s vehicle whilst he made a delivery.

“Mr Fletcher chased after him and bravely held onto the lorry’s wing mirror. In trying to escape, and with no regard for his victim, Leonard Willsher callously pushed Mr Fletcher away and then ran him over.

“Despite causing near fatal injuries, Willsher did nothing to help his victim, but was observed wiping his fingerprints from the lorry before running off, leaving his victim for dead.

“Thanks to expert medical care, his own strength of character and determination to get better Mr Fletcher is recovering with the help and support of his family.”

She added: “This was a complex enquiry involving a large number of Essex Police staff and experts who provided the evidence to put Leonard Willsher in the driving seat. I am glad for Mr Fletcher and his family that we have been able to get justice for them.”

Detectives are still keen to hear from anyone who can assist with identifying the second suspect in this case.

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