Groom-to-be's bravery stops car thief and saves wedding

By Court Reporter 24/04 Updated: 24/04 16:26

A COUPLE were faced with the prospect of losing their planned wedding date when a thief made off in their car after stealing the bride-to-be’s handbag in a Rugby supermarket.

But their day was saved when groom Bill McDonough bravely leapt onto the bonnet and was carried along at 20mph before managing to smash a window and grab the keys back.

And at Warwick Crown Court thief Laura Thorneycroft was jailed for a total of 18 months and banned from driving for two years.

Thorneycroft, 27, of Morning Star Road, Daventry, had pleaded guilty to theft, aggravated vehicle taking, having no licence or insurance, and possessing a knife in public.

Prosecutor Iain Willis said that on February 27 Mr McDonough and his fiancée Amanda Knowles were on their way to Rugby register office to arrange their wedding for August, so had personal documents with them.

On the way they stopped off at the Asda supermarket where they split up to do the shopping, and when Miss Knowles was bumped into as she was pushing her trolley, she apologised, thinking it might have been her fault.

But she then realised her handbag had been taken, so immediately informed staff who checked the CCTV system.

One member of staff checked the toilets where Miss Knowles’s handbag was found – but with property including her passport, birth certificate and their car keys missing.

So Mr McDonough rushed out to make sure the car was still there – just in time to see Thorneycroft pulling out of the parking space. He bravely tried to stop her by jumping onto the bonnet as she sped off onto the road.

But despite her dangerous actions, Thorneycroft then stopped at a red light, still with Mr McDonough on the bonnet – and he managed to kick out the driver’s window and grab the keys before she could pull away again.

Police community support officers were quickly on the scene, and Thorneycroft was arrested in the car, so luckily Miss Knowles’s documents were recovered, and in her bag the officers found a knife.

The couple, who feared their wedding could not have taken place without the documents, were ‘badly traumatised’ by the incident, and Miss Knowles had to have four weeks off work.

Mr Willis added Thorneycroft had convictions for shoplifting and fraud to support a drug habit, and was due to be dealt with for breaching a community order.

For Thorneycroft, Ben Close said she went to Asda to shoplift, with the handbag theft being opportunistic, and did not have the knife for any sinister purpose.

Mr Close added Thorneycroft, who has a nine-year-old son, had been of good character until November when she lost her job as a manager and could no longer afford to support her drug addiction which she had kept a secret from everyone.

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