Family in emotional appeal to car thief who left man in coma with hit-and-run getaway

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The family of a man who remains seriously ill in hospital following a hit-and-run have launched an emotional appeal for the driver to turn himself in to police.

Geoffrey Hazeldene, 59, is in an induced coma in hospital after a thief drove a car into the dock worker as he tried to stop him stealing his car on Thursday morning.

Police have launch an attempted murder investigation.

Mr Hazeldene’s wife, Shirley, daughter Samantha and stepson Gary yesterday made a tearful plea for anyone with information to contact police.

At a press conference in PlymoutH yesterday, Mr Hazeldene’s stepson also appealed to any members of the public who may be withholding information in order to protect the driver.

“Do the right thing, we are relying on the public now to come forward and do that,” he said.

“I don’t think the outcome was the intended outcome – something has gone wrong.

“I don’t think whoever took the car wanted any harm to come to my dad.”

Fighting back tears in a direct address to the suspect, he added: “Speak to the police and give them your side of the story.

“Give the police the opportunity to talk to you. If it was just events that unfolded, come forward, tell us.”

Mr Hazeldene, who has worked at the city’s Devonport Dockyard for 42 years since joining as an apprentice, had parked his blue Vauxhall Astra outside a shop in Melrose Avenue, Plymouth at around 7am Thursday as he went to buy a newspaper.

When he came out, a man was in the process of stealing the car, officers said.

The 59-year-old is thought to have stood in the road in an attempt to stop the thief from driving away.

Mr Bond said the impact of the incident had been a “bolt from the blue”.

“He was just going about his daily routine; buying a paper and setting off to work at the Dockyard when this happened to him,” he added. “It has left us all in a state of shock.”

Mrs Hazeldene said doctors were unsure as to her husband’s prognosis.

“There is swelling on the brain, the doctors want to see how damaged it is. It is make or break time for him really.

“We don’t know – are we going to get him back?

“They (medics) can’t give us a prognosis. They don’t know whether he will ever wake up or whether in a few months he will be back to normal.

“We just have to hope for the future that we will get him back. He is a very determined, stubborn man.”

DC John Buckley said officers believe the vehicle was probably dumped in Plymouth, although it has not yet been traced.

He added: “We think it was an opportunist theft, and that the vehicle is still local. We are pretty sure it hasn’t got much further on to Dartmoor.

“We need someone to tell us who has done this terrible crime.”