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Farmer, 59, is guilty of attempted murder after deliberately running over his neighbour, 71

Charles Wood (pictured), 59, of Sandhurst, Kent, was convicted of attempted murder at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday after claiming he had no recollection of trying to kill Thomas Robinson, 71, on March 2 last year

A turf farmer who claimed to have no memory of deliberately running over his elderly neighbour as part of a long-standing feud has been found guilty of attempted murder. 

Charles Wood, 59, of Sandhurst, Kent, was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday after claiming he had no recollection of trying to kill Thomas Robinson, 71, on March 2 last year. 

Wood, whose clients included 10 Downing Street and the exclusive Wentworth Golf Course in Surrey, was remanded in custody after a jury took just four hours to return a guilty verdict. He will be sentenced on December 13. 

At trial, Wood accepted that he was at the wheel of his VW Transporter van when it struck retired bricklayer Mr Robinson from behind as he walked to village shops in Sandhurst, at about 1.20pm.

However Wood – now a qualified sports massage therapist – told the court on Monday that he could not remember any of the alleged murder bid or his arrest and police interview, adding: ‘It’s really annoying because I have quite a good memory but I can’t remember any of that.’  

Wood’s property, an industrial barn undergoing a renovation, was accessed from a road running beside Mr Robinson’s home which, the court previously heard, was ‘the source of the problem’ between the two men, with the former accusing the latter of littering the pathway with rubbish. 

Between 2013 and late 2016, they both made accusations of assault and property damage against one another but no charges were ever brought. 

Then, on March 2 2020, Wood deliberately ploughed into Mr Robinson at an estimated speed of between 15 and 20mph, after fully mounting the pavement.

One witness told of how they saw the driver appear to ‘line up’ Mr Robinson as their target.

Mr Robinson was sent flying into the air and suffered a brain haemorrhage, spinal and rib fractures, a collapsed lung and a bruised aorta.

He was in hospital for almost four months, with several weeks spent recovering at the Stoke Mandeville Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre. 

Wood drove off from the scene, only to double back past it before returning to his home. 

Witnesses told the court how they saw Wood (pictured) 'line up' his van to target Mr Robinson shortly before the incident

Witnesses told the court how they saw Wood (pictured) ‘line up’ his van to target Mr Robinson shortly before the incident

Police later found the van parked outside his barn with a large dent to the bonnet and a smashed windscreen but he was not arrested until the following day.

Wood also denied charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The two men were described as being ‘engaged in something of a feud’ over an access road leading to Wood’s barn and farmland, and running alongside the Robinson family home.         

A series of allegations and counter allegations were made to police over a three-year period, with the last recorded incident in November 2016.

The court heard these included accusations of assault and criminal damage, and although none resulted in any charges Mr Robinson was formally cautioned in February 2014.

But giving evidence on Monday, Wood said despite having no recollection of the day he is alleged to have mown down his neighbour, he had no reason to want to hurt him and never intended to kill anyone.

He told the jury: ‘Basically, I had as little as possible to do with any of the Robinsons. 

‘I’d just open and close the gate and went about my own business. There was always plenty to do.

‘I wish him no ill-health and wouldn’t do that. It’s upsetting I’m accused of hurting someone. I usually go out of my way to help people.

‘I’m upset he has sustained those injuries from my driving.’

He also told the court he could not remember his arrest or being in police custody and interviewed, adding: ‘It’s really annoying because I have quite a good memory but I can’t remember any of that.’

Mr Robinson, 71, was struck from behind on Rye Road (pictured), Sandhurst, in March last year

Mr Robinson, 71, was struck from behind on Rye Road (pictured), Sandhurst, in March last year

During cross-examination, Wood said the day of the collision was the first time he had lost his memory while driving.

Asked by the prosecutor what his last memory was before his van hit Mr Robinson, Wood replied: ‘It’s all a bit vague. I wasn’t very well in the last three to four weeks preceding. 

‘The whole period is very vague….I struggle to remember anything.’

Wood maintained he had no recollection of the collision itself and denied being in a dispute with his neighbour.

‘I feel very sorry but I presume it’s an accident,’ he told the jury.

He added that he would not have deliberately run down Mr Robinson because he would not want to jeopardise his lifestyle, in particular his passion for travelling.

‘I have no recollection but I would never do that because it would stop me from travelling, which I would never jeopardise,’ Wood told the court.

‘I am now 59 years old, comfortable with money. Why would I jeopardise everything I have got to run someone down?

‘It’s against my nature. I believe it was an accident.’

On the morning of the murder bid, Wood had visited a cranial osteopath in Battle, East Sussex, before shopping in nearby St Leonards.

Much of his movements were captured on CCTV, including his return to his home in his damaged van following the hit-and-run.

He is then seen unloading his groceries and before being taken to hospital by a friend – where he was shown in a wheelchair and was said to be confused and complaining of head and neck pain.

Wood, whose clients included 10 Downing Street, royal parks and the exclusive Wentworth Golf Course, was remanded in custody after a jury took just four hours to return a guilty verdict. He will be sentenced on December 13 (Pictured: Maidstone Crown Court)

Wood, whose clients included 10 Downing Street, royal parks and the exclusive Wentworth Golf Course, was remanded in custody after a jury took just four hours to return a guilty verdict. He will be sentenced on December 13 (Pictured: Maidstone Crown Court) 

However, no injuries were recorded and he was discharged after tests and a CT scan showed nothing untoward. 

But Wood told the jury he could not remember anything of that day.

‘For all intents and purposes, I look normal on the videos but I have no recollection,’ he added. 

Wood also had to be taken to hospital after his arrest, complaining of head, neck and throat pain.

He told staff of his A&E visit the previous day but could not recall why, and it was recorded that he appeared to be suffering from amnesia.

However, medical tests proved ‘unremarkable’ and he was discharged back into police custody, the court heard.

Wood, who has no previous convictions, told the jury he grew up on a dairy farm before studying agriculture at the Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire and then agronomy – the science and technology of plant production for agricultural use – in the US.

Also a keen rugby player, he is said to have competed at ‘high level’ both in America and Australia, while his farming career took him across the States and into Canada, before eventually returning to the UK in 1989, setting up his turf farm business.

Four years later, he purchased Hernden Marsh Farm in Sandhurst for the purpose of turf production, the land having been uncultivated for about 100 years and used for fattening cattle. His clients have included royal parks and Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium’s ‘removeable’ pitch.

Wood told the court it was ‘completely bare land’ dating back to Saxon-Roman times with only river access until he transformed the lane running adjacent to the Robinson property which had become an overgrown, debris-littered mud track.

It was in May 2013 that the Robinsons first complained to police that Wood had damaged their property.

‘They said there had been a long-standing dispute over usage of the land. However, the matter was investigated and no action was taken,’ said prosecutor Paul Valder.

‘In September 2013 Wood and Mr Robinson made counter allegations against each other of assault but when police attended they found no evidence of an assault and neither party wanted any action taken.’

Mr Valder said Mr Robinson received a formal caution in February 2014 after Wood reported he had damaged his postbox and thrown rubbish and paint at his gateway.

Trouble between the pair continued with further allegations of assault being made in April 2016 but again no further action was taken by police.

There was another accusation by the Robinsons that Wood had damaged their property in August that year, with the final recorded complaint of alleged damage caused by Wood made three months later.

In January 2019, Wood fell up to 17ft from a ladder and onto his head, suffering a small haemorrhage and spending four days in hospital.

His medical records showed he still had ongoing headaches, lethargy, poor concentration and neck pain six months later, and in August that year was diagnosed as ‘a very good case of somebody who has post-concussion headache’, the court heard.

The prosecution argued that by using his van as ‘a lethal weapon’ to knock down Mr Robinson and then speed away, Wood must have intended to kill.

But when asked by his barrister Mark Dacey if that had ever been his intention, or to cause really serious harm, Wood replied: ‘No, it’s not in my nature to do that.’


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