Murder trial teenager drove headlong into motorcyclists ‘to scare them’

Sheldon Lewcock died in head-on collision, Reading Crown Court told
Sheldon Lewcock died in the head-on collision, Reading Crown Court told - HNP Newsdesk/Hyde News & Pictures Ltd

A teenager who swerved a van into a group of motorcyclists “to scare them” hit one so hard he died after flying almost 100 feet through the air, a court heard.

Ryan Willicombe was at the wheel of the van when he hit 19-year-old Sheldon Lewcock head-on, causing him catastrophic fatal injuries.

Prosecutors told the jury Mr Willicombe recognised a youth called Kayden Williams among the group of bikers and that it was known the two did not get on.

Mr Willicombe, who was 17 years old at the time, decided to veer towards the oncoming lane to either frighten, injure, or kill Mr Williams – but hit Mr Lewcock instead, the jury heard.

Prosecutor Philip Evans, opening the case at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday, told the jury: “The defendant was driving his father’s van along a road in the Tilehurst area of Reading called Pierces Hill when he spotted an oncoming group of boys riding electric motorbikes.

“He knew at least one of them in the group: Kayden Williams. What is clear in this case is that the defendant and Kayden Williams did not get along.

“The defendant decided to swerve towards the group. In doing that, he clipped Kayden Williams with the wing mirror of the van and went on to hit Sheldon Lewcock head-on.

“By the point that he hit Sheldon with his van, Mr Willicombe’s van was almost if not entirely on the wrong side of the road.”

The jury heard that Mr Willicombe caused only superficial injuries to Mr Williams but that Mr Lewcock’s were fatal.

Hiding in a cupboard

Mr Evans went on: “His body was thrown 30 metres from the point of the collision and Mr Willicombe drove right over the top of the motorbike.

“Sheldon’s injuries were catastrophic and despite medical attention, he died in hospital five days later on Aug 9 2022.”

The jury was told Mr Willicombe did not stop his van following the collision and drove instead to the car park of a nearby Co-op food store.

Mr Evans said: “The bumper of the van was hanging off and it was there that Mr Willicombe abandoned the van.

“He left the area of the Co-op and fled to his grandfather’s home in South Wales, where the police tracked him down the next day. They found him hiding in a cupboard.”

Mr Willicombe, from Newbury, Berks, denies one count of murder – but the jury heard that he admitted another charge of dangerous driving.

However, the prosecution maintained that Mr Willicombe was “using the van as a weapon” to try to hit Mr Williams – at least “intending to cause grievous bodily harm”.

Mr Evans told the jury that they would hear evidence from police officers who spoke to the accused shortly before the fatal incident. The defendant claimed he was being harassed by local drug dealers trying to pressure him into selling drugs for them.

Mr Evans said: “On July 22 2022, Ryan Willicombe’s mother telephoned the police to report threats that had been made about her son.

“The police attended and spoke to Ryan Willicombe – a conversation which was recorded on officers’ body-worn video cameras.

‘Drugs through Snapchat’

“Ryan Willicombe told them that people had been trying to recruit him to sell drugs through Snapchat – and that his refusal had resulted in them threatening him.”

The court heard that Mr Williams was one of the individuals that Mr Willicombe spoke to the police about. Mr Willicombe admitted using his father’s vehicle to “scare” his alleged harassers away on at least one occasion.

Mr Evans added: “On July 24, Ryan Willicombe told the police that he had used a vehicle to drive at the individuals, who he claims were threatening him, to scare them away.

“He said: ‘I would not have actually hit them. I would have probably slammed on the brakes if I had gotten that close.”

Lewcock’s family, including his mother, Angela, attended the start of the trial, along with Mr Willicombe’s parents.

Angela Lewcock previously paid tribute to her son, describing him as a “beautiful boy” whose smile “lit up the room”.

The trial continues.