THE family of a man mowed down by his own lorry during a botched hijack have thanked the people who came to his aid.

David Fletcher has been left needing a wheelchair and unable to do the most basic tasks after the incident on July 9.

Mr Fletcher was making a delivery in Wood Avenue, Purfleet, when Leonard Willsher, 41, and an accomplice, who has never been caught, jumped into the seven-and-half-tonne truck and began driving away.

Mr Fletcher ran after his lorry and managed to jump on to the footplate next to the driver’s door.

But Willsher, of The Fremnells, Basildon, shoved him into the road and ran over him.

Willsher was jailed for three years and eight months at Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday.

In a statement released yesterday, Mr Fletcher’s family said: “We would like to thank the team at Essex Police for their hard work and dedication.

“We are particularly grateful for the professionalism and support of Lee Nelson, Liz Morgan, LucyRobinson and Mark Hodgson throughout the investigation.

“We would also like to pass on our thanks to all those that helped David, from the witnesses that helped care for him when he was lying injured in the road, the Essex Air Ambulance and the staff at the Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel.

“We know that without the first-class care he received, David would not be with us today.

“We, of course, wish this incident had never happened and we will always have to live with the consequences.

“We have, however, drawn comfort from the fact that for every person like the defendant and his accomplice, there are countless others that have shown so much kindness and care.”

Yesterday, senior investigating officer, Det Chief Insp LucyMorris, praised Mr Fletcher’s bravery.

She said: “Thanks to expert medical care, his own strength of character and determination to get better, Mr Fletcher is recovering with the help and support of his family.

“I am glad for Mr Fletcher and his family that we have been able to get justice for them.

“However, we have not closed this inquiry yet.

“We know there was a second man in the vehicle with Willsher and despite admitting these offences, he has, so far, refused to identify the man who was with him.”

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101.