Two people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a forecourt manager was critically injured during a drive-off. A 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl were arrested in Chatham in the early hours of this morning.

Lekshmanan Asokkumar, who manages the Texaco garage in West Kingsdown, Kent, was flown to hospital in an air ambulance after the incident on Wednesday afternoon.

DCI Jon Clayden said: “A vehicle went onto the forecourt of the Texaco service station in West Kingsdown.

“It was immediately apparent to the manager of the store that they were intending to steal petrol.

“He went out and challenged them and they drove at him. He ended up on the bonnet of the car and travelled, by our conservative estimate, at least half-a-mile down the road on the bonnet of the car before they turned left and he came off the bonnet and sustained serious head injuries.

“His condition has improved moderately, which is good news, but he is still not able to talk.”

Miles Harvey, director of the Park Garage Group, which owns the site, said: “Lekshmann has been moved off the intensive care ward, so there has been some improvement, but he is still not fully conscious.

“I have spoken to his wife Judie this morning and she said she believed he was aware that she and their sons were there.”

He said he had been on the site every day since the incident and added: “We will give Judie any support she needs, and the staff who are obviously very shocked by what has happened.”

Harvey praised the thoroughness of the police and forensics team at the site and said they had been able to get clear CCTV of the vehicle and the people inside.

He explained: “When they pulled onto the forecourt the pump they wanted to use was in operation, so they circled round. That pump is the furthest from the office so the coverage is difficult but we have clear pictures from when they circled round.”

He added: “Unfortunately drive-offs are all too common, but this is the first time I have come across an incident like this.”

Park Garage Group has offered a £5,000 reward for information leading to conviction of the attackers.