A LEARNER driver, who drove off in his girlfriend’s car when she left him to go and buy chips, knocked down and injured a cyclist then fled the scene.

Joseph Hawthorn, of Townhead in Dreghorn, also hit another vehicle and drove straight through a red light after hitting the cyclist on February 1 of this year.

Hawthorn, who was the holder of a provisional licence at the time of the incident, had been driving his partner’s Fiat Punto under her supervision.

But when the woman left Hawthorn in the car to go into a chip shop, he drove off without her consent, without supervision and without displaying L-plates.

Hawthorn appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week and pled guilty to two charges under the Road Traffic Act.

The court heard that Hawthorn’s girlfriend had taken him out in her car when the pair decided to stop for chips on Townhead.

The woman exited the vehicle, leaving Hawthorn alone in the car and sitting in the driving seat.

While she was inside the chip shop, 58-year-old Hawthorn took off in her car.

The court heard that as Hawthorn drove along Townhead approaching a junction, a 53-year-old cyclist was travelling towards his vehicle wearing full cycling clothing and a helmet.

Hawthorn failed to make proper observations, slow down or give way at the junction and subsequently collided with the man on the bike.

The cyclist was thrown into the air and landed on another vehicle.

Instead of stopping to check on the injured man’s welfare, Hawthorn began reversing.

Again, he failed to make proper observations and collided with another car which had stopped due to the collision taking place.

Hawthorn then fled the scene of the accident at speed, failing to comply with a red light.

The incident was witnessed by several people, who contacted police.

When officers arrived, they found the cyclist lying on the ground. He was taken by ambulance to Crosshouse Hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.

It was later confirmed that the 53-year-old’s collarbone was indeed broken as a result of the collision.

Witnesses had noted the number plate of the car Hawthorn was driving and police were therefore able to trace the vehicle’s owner, Hawthorn’s girlfriend.

The woman told officers that it was Hawthorn who had been driving her car.

When police confronted Hawthorn at his address, he said: “I was the one, she had nothing to do with it.”

Sheriff Iona McDonald told the 58-year-old: “Mr Hawthorn, this is a very serious matter. A gentleman received a broken collarbone.

“I need to know more about your background before I deal with you.”

Sheriff McDonald deferred sentence until September 11 and called for a Criminal Justice Social Work Report and a Restriction of Liberty Assessment.

She also disqualified Hawthorn from driving in the meantime.