A TULLIBODY man who almost killed a bike thief with a 4x4 in an apparent revenge attack has been locked up.

Convicted drug dealer Gary McKnight went looking for the youngster after his partner’s bicycle was taken in August 2015.

He spotted John Rawding in Menstrie and drove at him across a grass verge in his SUV, with the 22-year-old trying to escape over a metal fence.

The “petrified” cyclist was struck with the one-and-a-half tonne vehicle, before being set upon further by the enraged McKnight.

Witnesses describe the Clacks man being covered in blood as a nurse and GP administered first aid to him and another man the accused attacked.

After five days of evidence at Falkirk Sheriff Court, the jury took less than 90 minutes to find McKnight, 45, formerly of Carseview, guilty of assault to endanger life and assault to injury. He had denied the charges.

Sheriff John Mundy deferred sentence until February 22 for a social background report, and revoked McKnight’s bail.

He told him: “In view of the seriousness of the charges and the likely disposal you will be remanded in custody in the meantime.”

The incident took place on August 25, 2015.

Residents of Cedar Grove and Hazel Avenue, in Menstrie, watched on in horror as McKnight drove the 4x4 “at speed” directly at the two young men.

He left Mr Rawding with a broken leg and blood gushing from a head wound that required seven stitches.

McKnight then punched and kicked a teenager, who was with him, Craig Thomson, knocking him to the ground and leaving a cut almost an inch long above his eyebrow that also had to be stitched.

Mr Rawding, who accepted in evidence that he had stolen the mountain bike, though he was never prosecuted.

He said he thought the bike, which turned out to belong to McKnight’s then girlfriend, had been abandoned when he found it in Tullibody and took it to get to his mother’s house in Menstrie with his friend, who had his own bike.

He added that he was not planning on keeping it.

In Menstrie, he saw McKnight’s large silver 4x4 flying through a roundabout.

He told the court: “It drove straight at me at high speed. I got up onto the pavement and was trying to get past the railings so it couldn’t hurt me, but it hit me and I remember smashing my head on the pavement and waking up 10 minutes later.”

Mr Thomson said McKnight had punched and kicked him to the ground as he tried to stop him approaching Mr Rawding on foot “to do him further damage”.

A local resident aged 76, and a former insurance broker, said he had seen “two boys on bicycles coming round the corner” followed by the 4x4.

He said: “The boys were petrified, I think. The car followed them and went off the road and across the same piece of ground until it hit them.
“There was a pretty loud metal-on-metal noise.”

He later saw McKnight reverse back onto the road, pick up the “mangled” mountain bike and put it into the tailgate and drive off.

Another resident, a Stirling University scientist, 74, said he was alerted by “the sound of a car accelerating, then a crash, and shouting and groaning, as if someone was in pain”.

He said he saw the two young men “with harrowing looks of fear on their faces” before McKnight knocked Mr Thomson down and then “punched and kicked him in the midriff and then in the head”.

A student nurse, 30, who also lived nearby, said she was so frightened by McKnight’s aggressive attitude that she hid behind a hedge until he had left, then went to give the victims first aid.

She found the two young men, whom she had heard shouting “I’m sorry”, “No”, and “please stop”, with “blood everywhere”.

A GP who lived in the street then came out and gave her a pair of rubber gloves and they set about trying to staunch the wounds.

The nurse said: “Both of the boys had head wounds which were bleeding and were dazed. There was blood everywhere. The older boy seemed to have gone into shock and the younger one was very, very, very upset.”

Another passer-by, 49, arrived on the scene to witness the violence. She said: “I was shocked, blown away, that something like this could happen in a street where I lived.”

Police later found the X-Trail behind a row of bins.

McKnight was arrested and said: “All this over a stolen mountain bike.”
He said he had recently bought the bike for his partner for £300.

The incident took two-and-half years to come to trial as McKnight fell out with seven sets of lawyers. In the end, the court had to impose a solicitor, Dick Sandeman, to represent him.

Summing up the defence case, Mr Sandeman submitted that the collision had been an accident which happened when McKnight “had been trying to get to the gap in the fence to block it off before the boys used it to make a getaway again”.

But prosecutor Ronnie Hay said McKnight had been “administering punishment”.

McKnight, who has two pages of previous convictions, was jailed for five years at the High Court in Glasgow in 2004 for being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.