Teenager accused of ploughing into Blackpool revellers faces trial as more details of terrifying event emerge

Police at the scene (Picture: Dave Nelson)
Police at the scene (Picture: Dave Nelson)

A man has appeared in court accused of driving at revellers following an 'incident' inside Blackpool's Home & HQ nightclub on Saturday night.

Jake Hartley, 19, of Rochdale Road, Todmorden, was arrested after three women were hurt in the town centre, and appeared before magistrates this morning charged with a series of alleged offences.

He was remanded in custody and is now next due to appear at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday, May 16.

Pubs, clubs, and restaurants were forced to go into lock-down and keep hundreds of punters indoors as emergency services attended the scene shortly before midnight.

All three women were taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital as frantic revellers contacted their loved ones for updates, amid unfounded rumours of a terrorist attack and a man on the rampage with a knife.

One of the injured women, 80, broke her collarbone. Another, aged 70, had a sprained ankle and cuts and bruises to her legs. And the third, in her 30s, suffered a broken tooth, a swollen jaw, and bruising to her legs, police said.

Shortly after they were injured, armed police swooped on the Norbreck Castle hotel on the Promenade.

Mr Hartley was arrested and questioned before Lancashire Police said he had been charged with an attempted Section 18 wounding, three section 47 assaults, dangerous driving, drink driving, driving without insurance, and possession of a weapon capable of incapacitation - allegedly a stun gun.

The car, the court heard, was deliberately driven at people in Talbot Road, Clifton Street, The Strand, and Market Street. A car believed to have been used in the incident was recovered by police.

Officers have been carrying out visits across the resort this morning to reassure businesses and venues, including the Grundy Art Gallery, which tweeted: "Great to have the Police stop by today quashing rumours following Saturday's incident in the town centre. Great follow up service. Thanks."

Det Supt Ian Whitehead, of Lancashire Police, said more people could have suffered minor injuries and appealed for them to come forward.

In a statement, he said: "We would ask anyone who was injured, no matter how minor, to come forward and tell us what happened.

“We would also ask anyone who witnessed the incident, or captured any footage on their mobile phone or dashcam to get in touch, as we continue our investigation.

“This was a frightening incident at a time when Blackpool town centre was busy with people enjoying a night out.

“Our thoughts remain with the women who were injured as they continue their recovery.”

Coun Tony Williams, opposition leader at the town hall, opposite the Home & HQ club, also praised officers for their response.

Paul Rawson, manager of the Blackpool Street Angels group, said he and four other volunteers gave first aid to the three women injured.

The first, Zarna Choudhury, was hit close to The Strand, which runs between Home & HQ and the Counting House towards Queen Street.

The second and third, who he believes may have been tourists staying at the Ibis, were hit close to the town hall.

Helped by door staff from both venues, the volunteers, who are regularly in the town centre on weekends helping party-goers, administered first aid, before leading the women, one of whom was covered in blood from a gash on her chin, to the relative safety of the town hall's steps.

Paul said: "I heard someone saying, 'We have a fatality', and people were shouting to get inside."

He praised his fellow volunteers, who stayed calm to treat the women prior to the emergency service's arrival.

He added: "We were confident of what our capabilities were in terms of first aid and treatment, and that was priority."