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Dog walker pelted with chocolates
Published 09/04/10

A MAN claims he could have been killed when he was targeted by youths joyriding in Mill Meadows car park in Henley on Easter Sunday.

Paul Rivett was walking his golden retriever near the River and Rowing Museum at about 9.40pm when a red saloon car sped towards him, forcing him to dive into a hedge.

When he went to confront the driver, the four youths inside began throwing things at him before driving off.

Mr Rivett, 61, of Meadow Road, Henley, claimed the incident was not unusual for the area.

He said: "Every weekend in Station Road and Mill Meadows kids are abusive. Kids in cars are ‘doughnutting’, racing each other and doing handbrake turns.

"On Sunday, I was walking my dog, as I do most nights, when this car roared towards me at 30mph along Meadow Road.

"The car passed me and turned left to, I thought, park but instead turned back towards me and drove straight at me. I moved out of its path into the gap in the hedge next to the pay station.

"As the car raced past, I was hit in the face and head by several objects thrown from the car."

Ater the incident, he discovered the missiles were chocolate sweets.

Mr Rivett, who lives with wife Tina, said: "I was shocked but not hurt. If I had been hit by the car, even at 30mph, my chance of survival would be minimal.

"It must surely follow that the incident should be considered not just an assault but an attempt on my life.

"If there hadn’t have been a gap in the hedge I didn’t have a chance of survival — I am not a youngster.

"Does it require an innocent member of the public to be injured or killed before the car hooning in Mill Meadows car park will be curtailed?"

He reported the incident to the police but claimed they said they could not investigate because the CCTV cameras were not working.

Mr Rivett said: "I had a follow-up call from the police to inform me that none of the cameras were working in either Mill Meadows or Henley itself and so they could not view either the car or the incident.

"I am dismayed. There is a camera 20 or 30 yards away from where the car nearly hit me. It would have seen everything.

"The previous night at midnight, kids were making a mess in the adventure playground. There is a sign up there to say it is closed after dark." Mr Rivett said police had stepped up patrols in the area, adding: "They have been very good and do take a lot of care and attention, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, and it has got a lot better."

The three cameras in the car park are owned by Henley Town Council and managed by South Oxfordshire District Council.

Town clerk Mike Kennedy said: "They do work, otherwise we wouldn’t be paying for them. The district council manages all our cameras and I have heard nothing about any downtime or problems with them."

A spokeswoman for the district council said: "It is completely incorrect to say that all Henley’s cameras are not working. The particular camera that would have covered the area has some pictures but it does have a fault.

"The operator cannot make the camera pan round the area so it is in the hands of our engineers."

Police met Mr Rivett this week to discuss the incident.

Sgt Graham Pink insisted that anti-social behaviour in Mill Meadows had been stamped out.

He said: "It is an area that we regularly patrol and, apart from this incident, we have had no other reports of people using cars in an anti-social manner in Mill Meadows.

"However, if anyone has any concerns, or would like to report anti-social behaviour, we would encourage them to contact Thames Valley Police on 08458 505505."

Published 09/04/10

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