A night out at Whanganui's Red Lion Inn turned to tragedy for a young man when a car ploughed into him.

The hit-and-run left 24-year-old Jesse Minnell fighting for his life.


Michael Robert Pollard, 62, has now been sentenced to two years and seven months in jail after pleading guilty to driving dangerously causing injury and failing to stop after an injury accident.

Pollard hit Minnell and knocked him "into the air with force from his car", Whanganui District Court heard.

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Minnell was in court with his parents to see Pollard sentenced.

Judge Robert Spear described the hit-and-run, outside the Red Lion on Anzac Parade on October 22, 2016, at 2.20am, as "quite unusual".

"You had been drinking that night at the Red Lion, although it would appear that you had controlled your drinking and kept it at a modest level," the judge said to Pollard.

After driving into Whanganui city centre to get a takeaway, Pollard drove back past the Red Lion when people were spilling out on to the roadway at closing time.

As Pollard was driving his car slowly through the group someone slapped the side of his car.

The judge said Pollard did a U-turn and accelerated heavily back towards the crowd.

"Jesse Minnell was knocked into the air by the force of the blow from your car and landed on his head.

"You slowed down, probably stopped momentarily, but then drove away under acceleration and went straight back to your home."

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Jesse Minnell was hit outside the Red Lion Inn by driver Michael Pollard in 2016. Photo / File
Jesse Minnell was hit outside the Red Lion Inn by driver Michael Pollard in 2016. Photo / File

Minnell was immediately flown to Wellington Hospital in a critical condition. He suffered brain bleeds and endured a long battle back from "horrific head injuries".

In a victim impact statement, Minnell's parents said no one wanted to be woken up with the news that one of their children has been injured in a senseless way and was struggling for their life.

"Jesse has had his life changed because of the accident and he has, accordingly, been dealt a life sentence by your senseless and dangerous act," the judge said.

Judge Spear said Pollard had shown remorse by writing a letter to Minnell's parents and was willing to pay $10,000 for emotional harm and reparation.

Pollard had previously denied wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and was found not guilty in December last year.