A newly-qualified driver’s bid to hit TikTok fame ended with her friend in intensive care with a fractured skull and bleed on the brain after the pair tried to recreate a social media ‘prank’.
Natasha Graham, 19, of South Shields, South Tyneside, was behind the wheel of her Fiat 500 while her friend gripped on to the front of her vehicle in a supermarket car park in Sunderland last November.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lost their grip trying to recreate the social media ‘prank’ and ended up with serious injuries that put them in intensive care.
Graham has now been given a suspended prison sentence for the ‘immature but wholly irresponsible driving prank’.
Newly-qualified driver Natasha Graham, 19, (Pictured) of South Shields, South Tyneside, was behind the wheel of her Fiat 500 while her friend gripped on to the front of her vehicle in a supermarket car park in Sunderland last November
Newcastle Crown Court heard the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lost their grip trying to recreate the social media ‘prank’ and ended up with serious injuries that put them in intensive care. Pictured: Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court: ‘The offence occurred in the Morrisons car park in Sunderland when the defendant attempted to create a video where a car was driven with someone on the bonnet.
‘The defendant accepts her driving fell below the standards of a competent and careful driver.’
The court heard that the car, which had one other passenger inside, originally reversed while the victim held on.
After coming to a stop, Graham attempted the manoeuvre again but this time she accelerated forward.
Mr Wardlaw added: ‘The defendant moved forward slowly. She expected the complainant to hold on until she stopped the car.
‘It’s not the prosecution’s case the defendant deliberately caused injuries sustained by the complainant.
‘The complainant has little recollection of the incident but can recall being in the car park where they decided to recreate the video.’
It was not known exactly what prompted the victim to let go of the car but one witness heard a loud cracking noise from nearby.
The victim was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and treated in ICU for a fractured skull, bleed on the brain, and a fractured ankle, but has since made a recovery.
Mr Wardlaw told the court that Graham was fairly new to the car and struggled to find the bite point in order for it to accelerate.
It had been suggested the noise of the engine may have surprised the complaint and led to the loss of grip.
Graham pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Tom Gent, mitigating, told the court: ‘This is clearly a tragic case.
‘She is clearly deeply sorry for what she did. She of course wishes she could turn back the clock.
‘It was, in my submission, a foolish and immature decision albeit made jointly by the group but nevertheless foolish and immature.
‘The defendant stopped her car, she got out, she immediately went to the assistance of the complainant.
‘She called the emergency services and she provided a blanket and was understandably extremely distressed.
‘She has a clean driving licence and has never been in any trouble of any kind which has involved the police until this indent.’
Assistant Judge Advocate General Edward Legard told Graham: ‘This was, in any view, an immature but wholly irresponsible driving prank that has caused a very serious injury.
‘Cars are not play things. They are heavy lumps of metal pulled by powerful engines which when used irresponsibly inevitably cause injury and often death.
‘You decided it would be fun to attempt to recreate a TikTok video where by one person held on to the bonnet of the car whilst it was being driven around.’
The judge told Graham the offence was so serious it passed the custodial threshold, but given her strong personal mitigation he was prepared to suspend it.
He added: ‘I accept that you yourself continue to express your own pain.
‘There is no doubt the sincerity of your remorse. I have decided, with some caution, to suspend the sentence.’
The judge sentenced her to 12 months in a young offender’s institute suspended for 18 months.
She must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work as well as being banned from driving for two years.