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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Neal Keeling

Stabbed by a householder and he still didn't stop: The trail of utter misery left by one criminal's obsession with cars

In 2015 Craig Norman was jailed for three and a half years after pleading guilty to burglary. In sentencing him Judge Michael Henshall hit out at Norman’s ‘dreadful’ record, which included 135 offences, and said he had an ‘obsession with other people’s motor cars’.

During the break-in for which he was convicted Norman was stabbed by the owner of the house. He spent six months in hospital, suffered serious injury to his major organs, and, according to his own barrister was "lucky to be alive".

Yet, he continued to commit crimes after his discharge from hospital and while recovering. Then, after his conviction, Norman made a formal complaint to police about the stabbing in a letter written from his cell - so GMP were duty bound to investigate.

It meant a dad went through an 18-month ordeal which resulted in HIM being arrested after he tackled a masked Norman who was trying to steal his car. Lee Fellowes, then 45, had confronted career criminal Norman on his driveway after the burglar had smashed the window of his front door in Swinton.

The father-of-two ‘instinctively grabbed a knife’ and stabbed Craig Norman in the stomach to protect his wife Kelly who was already grappling with the burglar on the drive of their home.

Lee Fellowes and wife, Kelly, endured 18 months of hell, not knowing if Lee would be prosecuted for stabbing burglar Craig Norman (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)

Crown lawyers assessed a police file on the case but returned it to GMP for more checks before finally deciding that Lee should not be prosecuted a year-and-a-half later. Lee's wife, Kelly spoke to the MEN after we broke the news to her that no further action was being taken.

She said: “We are really over the moon. It is a massive weight off our shoulders. When it had gone on for so long we had begun to fear the worst.

"It has been 18 months of our lives being on hold - and yet we are the victims of a burglary. It has been awful. People don’t realise what effect it has on your life. Lee is not as confident as he used to be. He has gone a bit withdrawn. Every time we heard a loud noise in the street we would get panicky."

Craig Norman, 45, from Little Hulton, Salford. His obsession with cars nearly cost him his life, now it has killed a friend (GMP)

When Norman was jailed for the burglary Rob Hall, prosecuting, read out a statement from Mrs Fellowes. In it she spoke of the ‘significant effect’ the case has had. He said: “She does not believe that time is a healer. She speaks of the distress this has caused to her and her young son, who was present."

At the same hearing where Norman was jailed for burglary he also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and aggravated vehicle-taking in relation to a separate incident, where a stolen Audi was pursued by police at speeds of up to 90mph around Salford. He was the driver.

Earlier this month Norman was locked again. Despite previous sentences and the stabbing that left him hospitalised, in the last seven years neither his obsession with cars or reckless criminal behaviour has diminished.

And, this time, a life was lost as a result of his actions. Seven years after his last conviction for dangerous driving, Norman committed the same offence with catastrophic consequences.

He raced his friend through the streets before his pal fatally crashed. Norman, 45, then drove past the horror scene and went home. He had been pursuing James Dickson after the pair spotted each other in Little Hulton, Salford.

Mr Dickson, a father-of-three, reached speeds of up to 99mph in a 30mph zone as Norman followed in a white Audi, reaching more than 70mph himself.

Manchester Crown Court heard that 37-year-old Mr Dickson hit another car when he tried to overtake it, before losing control and ploughing into some railings.

James Dickson, who died in a crash in Little Hulton in June this year (Submit)

He suffered fatal head injuries and a passenger in his Fiat 500, a car stolen weeks earlier, was flung from the car and seriously hurt. Meanwhile, Norman was able to stop his Audi following Mr Dickson's collision, on Manchester Road East, at about 8.45pm on Sunday, June 19, Father's Day.

Norman, who has now committed 146 previous offences, denied he had been racing Mr Dickson and described the crash as a 'tragic accident' for which he was not at fault.

"You have demonstrated absolutely no remorse for your actions that night," Judge Timothy Smith told Norman, as he handed him a 14 year extended sentence.

"It is, in my view, only surprising that, given your record, an incident such as this has not happened before." Both Norman and Mr Dickson were disqualified from driving at the time, and Mr Dickson was also over the drink drive limit.

Both cars could be heard 'revving' their engines near the Stocks hotel pub, before both men became involved in what the judge described as a 'quite appalling' piece of 'reckless and competitive driving'.

Mr Dickson's sister Kelly said in a statement: "I know James has been an idiot and I know he should not have been driving that car, but I truly believe if Craig Norman had not been egging him on and goading him into a race, James would never have driven that way and he would not be dead."

"I don't want people to remember James for the bad decision he made that day, I want them to remember he was a son, brother, father and uncle." She said her younger brother had a 'heart of gold' and was a 'kind-hearted' person."

The scene on the A6 in the aftermath of the tragedy (Submit)

Norman, of Longshaw Drive, Little Hulton, was unanimously found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving after a trial. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, to serve two-thirds in custody, and given an extra five years on licence. He was also banned from driving for eight years.

Under a change to the law applied since the crash in June, drivers found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving now face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The court heard of yet another incident when a life was put at risk by Norman.

In March 2020 Norman was jailed for three years after a man was dragged 25 metres along the road as he desperately tried to stop Norman stealing his van. Norman drove off after the Virgin Media worker left the engine of his vehicle running to warm it up on a cold day In January that year.

Opportunistic Norman took his chance after the man returned to a cable box he had been upgrading in Little Hulton, Salford, to pick up a tool he had left behind. Realising the van was being stolen, the worker grabbed the passenger side door. The man looked at Norman and tried to remember the balaclava he was wearing.

Manchester Crown Court heard that as Norman sped off in the van, the man was dragged about 25 metres down Manchester Road West. The worker, a contractor who used a Virgin Media liveried van, suffered significant grazing 'burn type' injuries to his thigh, knee and back in the incident.

The van had a tracker device on it and, when Norman was caught a short time later, police found the key fobs to two cars which had been stolen from outside people's homes. They included the keys to a £30,000 Mercedes A Class, which was taken the day before from a driveway in Worsley.

Norman was also found with the keys to a '16 plate Audi A3. The owner of the car had accidentally dropped the keys on the floor. Within minutes, a thief had stolen them. Norman was prosecuted for handling stolen goods.

There was no evidence he was involved in the thefts of the cars, the court heard, but Judge Mansell, sentencing, said he was satisfied Norman knew where both cars were being stashed. Both vehicles have not been recovered.

Norman pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking; driving while disqualified; driving with no insurance; and two counts of handling stolen goods for that offending spree. He was also banned from driving for five-and-a-half years. He was still serving that ban when he raced Mr Dickson.

Manchester Crown Court (MEN Media)

Commenting after Norman's most recent conviction, for causing death by dangerous driving, Police Sergeant Louise Warhurst, of GMP Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “It is really difficult to comprehend the impact of Craig Norman’s reckless and ultimately fatal actions.

"Situations like this are exactly the reason we are doing so much work to ensure that Greater Manchester’s roads are safer for us all so that fewer families have to receive this tragic news.

"He not only showed no regard for anyone but himself during the incident, but he has not since offered anything in the way of genuine remorse of compassion for his inexcusable actions."


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