130mph chase joyrider jailed
A JOYRIDER who stole his grandmother’s car and drove up to 130mph in a police chase on the M4 tearfully pleaded with a judge as he was jailed over the incident.
A JOYRIDER who stole his grandmother’s car and drove up to 130mph in a police chase on the M4 tearfully pleaded with a judge not to jail him.
Benjamin Thomas, 21, took the Vauxhall Mokka from the home he shares with his grandparents in Caerau, Bridgend, before driving at excessive speeds for several miles in a bid to lose police cars.
A helicopter was sent out to look for Thomas but he eventually abandoned the car and was later caught after his passenger told the police he was the driver.
A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday heard that at about 1am on June 14, officers indicated to Thomas to stop near the Pontprennau junction of the M4 near Cardiff but a chase ensued after he failed to stop.
CCTV was shown to the court, which showed the defendant reaching speeds of up to 130mph while driving on the M4 before moving on to the A4119 and the A473.
Prosecutor Vanessa Francis said: “The chase lasted five minutes and during that time it’s not only at high speed but in circumstances where vehicles are overtaken in a dangerous manner. He goes through a number of green and red lights at speed and he goes the wrong way round a roundabout.
“At that stage police lost site of the defendant in the Brynna area and the chase was taken up by a police helicopter. The vehicle was stopped and abandoned but the helicopter spotted one occupant in the vehicle.”
The passenger of the car – Robert Jones – told officers that Thomas, who had fled, was the driver of the vehicle.
Thomas was arrested and in his police interview he admitted being the driver and admitted he did not have a valid driving licence or insurance.
He later pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle-tak- ing, failing to stop and driving without a licence and insurance.
The defendant was interviewed by the probation service, who told the court he had previously been disqualified from driving for a similar offence of taking his grandmother’s car and driving it without permission.
Thomas claimed he had panicked when he saw the police car and he wanted to make sure the car was returned to his grandmother’s drive.
As a result of a broken left foot sustained in an assault, Thomas was unable to do unpaid work, so the probation service recommended a rehabilita- tion order and a curfew.
Defence barrister Rhodri Chudleigh said his client had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression which had left him unable to work and he is an occasional user of cannabis.
Sentencing, Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “You pulled away from the police exceeding the speed limit by almost twice and you got up to speeds of 130mph, a ridiculous speed to be driving a vehicle in a dangerous piece of driving.
He added: “In my judgement, this course of highly dangerous driving passes the custody threshold and only an immediate custodial sentence can be justi- fied. You have had chances in the past you have spurned. Aggravating features are the distance you travelled, the fact you took your grandmother’s car, your previous convictions and the speed at which you travelled and the lives you endangered.”
Before he was sent down, Thomas tearfully put his hand up and asked the judge if he would con- sider suspending the sentence, to which Judge Jenkins replied: “This is a very dangerous piece of driving which cannot be dealt with any other way other than immediate custody.”
Thomas, of Hermon Road, Caerau, Bridgend, was sentenced to a total of 10 months’ imprisonment and was disqualified from driving for three years and five months.
Benjamin Thomas, 21, was jailed for 10 months