A crazed driver rammed a taxi off the road and injured four people and almost killed himself a court heard.
Shptin Qelia and three fellow Albanians had got into an altercation with the driver of a private hire vehicle moments earlier when they boxed his car in and attacked him with planks of wood.
The driver managed to escape the onslaught and drive away, but the four men chased him in their Ford Focus through Middlesbrough town centre.
The incident took place around 2am. The private hire driver desperately tried to make it to a police station before the men caught him.
As he slowed to negotiate a junction the Focus driver sped up and shunted him off the road straight into a brick wall.
Losing control of his own vehicle, Qelia smashed into a tree, knocking himself unconscious.
Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday that the 37-year-old painter was abandoned by his passengers, and needed life-saving surgery for a ruptured aorta.
The private hire driver had severe pain to his knee and hip and had to have glass removed from his head after his windscreen shattered, while a passenger suffered soft tissue damage to his abdomen, hip, foot and ankle.
But the most badly hurt suffered a fractured vertebrae and rib, while his friend needed an operation to put plates into his right arm to repair a “multi-fragmented fracture”, said prosecutor Harry Hadfield.
The court heard that Qelia had never passed his driving test and was not wearing a seatbelt during the incident. Police confirmed that they found pieces of wood, an axe, a wooden pole and false Italian identity documents in the car.
As reported by the Northern Echo, Qelia, of no fixed address, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after he admitted two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, possessing an identity document with an improper intention, having no insurance and driving without a licence.
His barrister Nigel Soppitt said he had been smuggled into the UK in a lorry ten weeks before the incident on February 19, and had come for work so he could save up to get married.
“The injuries he caused were, of course, very severe. His injuries, caused by himself he has to concede, were also severe. He was moments away from death."
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told Qelia: “It is quite clear that you were part of a plan to cause an accident. This is as bad a case as there can be.”
Image: Source; Cleveland Police