A TEENAGE girl who was an unwilling passenger in a stolen van, was flung through the side window when it crashed after a 17 minute police pursuit.

Horrified police officers saw her being hurled onto a grass verge and on finding her unconscious feared the worst but miraculously, although seriously injured, she survived.

A court heard today that the 17-year-old is still struggling emotionally and feels the driver, Stephen Francom, has ruined her life.

The teenager and her friend had just accepted a lift in the vehicle when Francom, who they did not know, offered to take them to a nearby petrol station for cigarettes.

But once there, while her friend was in the garage shop, a police car drew up alongside and Francom drove off as he was a disqualified driver and did not want to go back to prison.

When arrested at the scene in Frankby Road, Frankby, Wirral, the defendant said, “I’m a d…head, I’m a k….head and should not have done it.”

He also said there was no need for a breath test as “I’m well over the limit.” 

He was found to have 47 micrograms of alcohol in 100 mll of breath, which was 12 micrograms over the limit. A wipe test was positive for cocaine but he refused to have a blood test.

Nardeen Nemat, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that on the evening of April 8 this year the victim and her friend were in Borough Road, Birkenhead and Francom overheard them saying the shop they had gone to for cigarettes was shut.

He offered them a lift to the petrol station in the van, which belonged to his employers, a paving firm, for whom he had only been working a few days and which he had taken without permission.

Police officers, who had earlier seen him and unsuccessfully asked him to stop, spotted him at the petrol station and the pursuit then began. The teenager still in the passenger seat asked him to stop and let her out as he squeezed past the police car but he refused.

During the ensuing 17 minute high speed pursuit he drove the white Citreon Nemo through a large part of the Wirral including Oxton, Upton, Thurstaston, Greasby, Frankby and Irby, said Miss Nemat.

“He went through several red lights, failed to stop at give way lines and the wrong way round roundabouts.. He overtook a number of cars dangerously forcing them to swerve.

“He was travelling at 70 mph through 30 mph zones. The girl was asking him to stop and let her out but he refused. He started to shout at her and she was left worried and scared,” said Miss Nemat.

“At some point someone rang him and he told them he was not going back to jail.”

She said that at 11.47 pm after passing Hillcroft Fencing on Frankby Road “he looked at her and said ‘f… it’.”

He then lost control on a bend and collided with the nearside kerb and swerved across the road and spun 180 degrees and crashed into a fence before it bounced back into the middle of the road.

“During the spinning she was thrown through the open passenger window and landed on the grass verge.”

The officers saw her apparently lifeless body and then heard her crying “a sound they did not believe they would hear when they first saw her motionless on the grass.”

She was taken to hospital where she was found to have suffered fractures to her left cheek bone area, a broken collar bone and fractured right wrist as well as multiple cuts from broken glass. She needed surgery for the wrist and cheek bone injury in which metal plates were inserted.

In a moving impact statement the victim told how at the time she had been looking forward to her 18th birthday, starting a new job and going away on a family holiday.

Her father managed to get her job start put back for two months but she has felt unable to take up the driving lessons he had planned for her birthday present as she still has flashbacks and nightmares.

“Before this incident I felt my life was going right for me, now I wake up crying and I don’t know why. I hope this person realises how bad he made me feel and I hope the court can punish him so he will not do this again to someone else and ruin their lives like mine.”

Miss Nemat said that when interviewed Francom, of Paton Close, West Kirkby, said he had drunk eight cans of Stella and had been smoking cannabis all day.

He has 58 convictions for 81 offences including theft and possessing cocaine and ecstasy with intent to supply.

He pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, theft of the van, driving while disqualified and failing to provide a specimen and was jailed for two years eight months. He was banned from driving for four years four months.

29-year-old Francom, who has mental health problems, appeared for sentence earlier this week but it was adjourned until today to enable the victim to make an impact statement. 

It was agreed that he could appear via video link but when arrangements fell through he refused to leave his cell to come to court and was sentenced in his absence.

Bernice Campbell, defending, said, “He is a troubled man, a young man despite his age of 29, he is incredibly immature.”

She described his level of remorse as “enormous” and said he is “incredibly emotional.”

Miss Campbell said that Francom, who was also injured in the crash, said he wished it had never happened and pointed out “all this, I was doing a favour, she wanted cigarettes.”

But he also said, “I deserve everything I get. I am the worst person in the world.”

She said his mental health problems have been exacerbated by family issues and he turned to drink and cannabis.

He has been talking about taking his life but on a positive note has now started to engage with the mental health team, added Miss Campbell.