130mph chase joyrider jailed

Glamorgan Gazette - - Front Page - PHILIP DEWEY philip.dewey@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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