Man jailed after 2017 disturbance outside Brentwood nightclub

Almost five years of complex work by specialist officers has secured the conviction of a man who was behind the wheel of a car which drove over a man who lay injured on the ground in Brentwood.

Martin Stokes, 28, has been sentenced after admitting ABH and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The incident took place outside the Sugar Hut venue in Brentwood High Street in the early hours of April 2, 2017.

Stokes, of no fixed address, appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court this morning to be sentenced by Crown Court Judge Samantha Leigh to four years in prison.

The sentencing comes after he was found not guilty of attempted murder and GBH with intent.

Stokes’ victim, then aged in his 20s, had been involved in a large-scale disturbance outside the club and had been knocked out and was laying on the road.

As a result of Stokes’ actions, the man was severely injured and only emergency treatment at the scene could save his life.

Two other people, who were tending to the man on the ground, were also struck. Their injuries were not serious, but the incident significantly impacted upon their mental health.

Stokes then left the country and could not be located.

However, he was arrested in London in April 2021 and transferred to Essex and charged.

Stokes did not deny being behind the wheel of the Audi Q7 but claimed not to have seen the victim on the ground.

Stokes had attempted to enter the nightclub earlier in the evening but was refused entry because he was wearing trainers. He returned later wearing suitable footwear.

When Stokes left the venue, the large-scale disturbance had begun.

Stokes can then be seen involving himself in the incident while the Audi Q7 is seen to be manoeuvring in and around the junction of Crown Street and High Street, before reversing back and coming to a stop on High Street.

At this stage, Stokes’ victim was laying prone on the road.

Stokes is then seen to get into the driver’s side of the vehicle as the previous driver moves into the passenger seat.

Shortly after, the vehicle accelerates toward the group, some of whom have surrounded the man on the ground and strikes them.

Stokes is the eleventh person to be convicted in connection with this incident.

Eight men admitted affray in 2019 and were given suspended prison sentences, fined and were ordered to complete unpaid work totalling 880 hours.

In December 2018 two men were also fined and ordered to carry out unpaid work for affray.

Detective Superintendent Steve Jennings, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “Stokes tried his best to evade justice for his actions for more than four years, until he was arrested in April last year.

“This incident severely impacted Stokes’ victims and has significantly impacted them in the long-term.

“We never stopped pursuing Stokes after he fled the country and, today, he has been sentenced to an appropriate time in custody for his crimes.”

Mick Ferris

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