A DAD-OF-TWO has avoided an immediate prison sentence for his involvement in an incident that saw a cyclist struck by a car, assaulted, and stabbed.

Last month, Reece Lowndes was jailed for 33 months after assaulting and stabbing a man who was riding his stolen bike on Cooper Street, at around 4pm on Tuesday, September 12 last year.

On Friday, May 17, Liverpool Crown Court heard that Connor Richards, of Bridge Road in Prescot, was the driver of the BMW which drove into the cyclist, James Gregory.

CCTV footage captured Richards' vehicle hitting Gregory while Lowndes got out of the passenger seat and delivered a high kick, as well as numerous blows and kicks to Gregory while he was lying defenceless on the floor.

Richards then drove off from the scene while Lowndes fled on the mountain bike.

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St Helens Star: The rider of the bicycle was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to hospitalThe rider of the bicycle was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to hospital (Image: St Helens Star)
With Gregory treated at the scene and later at Aintree hospital for a stab wound, rib fracture, bruising, and abrasion, a police investigation located Lowndes, the bicycle, and a blood stained jacket at his home address in St Helens.

Police later located the BMW at Richards' home address in Prescot, with a black lock knife left on the passenger seat. Subsequent testing found evidence of Gregory's blood on the knife and Lowndes' DNA on the handle.

Stella Hayden, prosecuting, explained that Richards had previously pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding for his involvement in the crime.

The 27-year-old claimed that his involvement in the crime was due to a heroin addiction, which had left him needing to pay off drug debts.

Ms Hayden explained that Richards, a dad-of-two, was paid £60 a day to drive people around in order to pay off these debts, and that he claimed he was unaware Lowndes was in possession of a knife until the moment of the attack.

However, the court heard that Richards did not alert the authorities to the incident.

St Helens Star: CCTV footage showed Richards' car driving into the cyclistCCTV footage showed Richards' car driving into the cyclist (Image: St Helens Star)
Defending, Ms Morley explained that while Richards had payed a "lesser role" in the attack, he had shown "genuine remorse and bitter regret" for his involvement in the incident.

She told the court that Richards' heroin addiction had stemmed from chronic back pain, and his subsequent drug debts had left him at the "mercy and instruction" of others.

Following the Cooper Street attack, Ms Morley explained that Richards has been attending a drug rehabilitation programme at Change Grow Live, from where he has received "very positive references".

With the 27-year-old "determined to get his life back on track" for the sake of himself, his family, and two children, Ms Morley asked the court to step back from an immediate custodial sentence as he is an individual with a "realistic prospect of rehabilitation".

St Helens Star: Richards has given a suspended prison sentence at Liverpool Crown CourtRichards has given a suspended prison sentence at Liverpool Crown Court (Image: St Helens Star)
When summarising the case, Judge Murray noted that Richards had previously rejected a drug rehabilitation and mental health programme, but it was accepted that this was a mistake due to the 27-year-old believing this would interfere with his Change Grow Live commitments.

Speaking to Richards, Judge Murray said: "I have already sentenced your co-accused Reece Lowndes to 33 months in prison for his role in this attack.

"He had a lot of previous convictions, while you at 27-years-old, do not, and his role in this incident was more serious than yours.

"However, you were driving the car that was encouraged by the co-accused to hit the complainant so that he could attack him.

"You waited for him knowing that he was attacking the complainant and knowing that he had a knife, resulting in grave injury for the complainant.

"I accept that you played a lesser role in the incident and that you have no previous convictions, although I do not accept that you are of good character as you were driving around your drug dealer to pay off your drug debts."

Describing Richards as someone who is at a low risk of reoffending but at a high risk of causing serious harm, Judge Murray said he was "just about persuaded" to suspend his prison sentence.

Taking Richards' guilty plea into account, Judge Murray suspended his 15 month prison sentence for two years.

It was stated that Richards will need to comply with mental health and drug rehabilitation programmes, and any further necessary requirements from the court.

Concluding, Judge Murray said: "I am just about persuaded to suspend your sentence and time will tell if this has been the right decision.

"You [Richards] need to start making big steps to get off Class A drugs or you will be back here and I will send you to prison."