100mph chase crash driver jailed


Published: Friday 30th January 2015 by The News Editor

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A banned driver who flipped his car over a hedge after reaching almost 100mph with a four-year old-boy in the back while trying to escape from police has been jailed for a year.

The sentencing judge said it was a miracle no-one was killed when Scott Tony Smith, 23, tried to shake off pursuing officers and raced through villages before ending up in a field.

Terrifying video taken from the police car’s on-board camera was played at Durham Crown Court before Smith was sentenced. During the sentencing it emerged that the boy was only strapped in with an adult’s seatbelt, not a child safety seat.

Also with Smith in the MG ZT was a woman who told police she had begged him to stop, saying: “The bairn’s in the car” but he replied “I know, I’m sorry.”

Police had received reports of a car being driven erratically in Smith’s home town of Stanley at around lunchtime on October 29.

An officer started to follow him and Smith immediately sped up, ignoring the blue lights and sirens, before embarking on a reckless attempt to escape which lasted around three minutes and could have ended in carnage.

The police on-board camera showed the patrol car had to reach 97mph to keep up with the MG as it careered through residential streets, in and out of traffic, through the villages of The Middles and Craghead.

Smith ignored a temporary traffic light which was on red and mounted the kerb to try to get away. Roads were busy with lunchtime traffic.

As the pursuit moved into country lanes, Smith tried desperately to keep ahead of the police car.

But after narrowly passing a van at about 80mph on a country lane, his car failed to steady and Smith was unable to negotiate a T-junction, sending the MG through a hedge and flipping it over.

A source said the police driver was stunned that no-one was badly hurt.

Last month Smith admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and a child cruelty offence relating to exposing the boy to such risk.

Judge Robert Adams told Smith: “You could have killed somebody – it is a miracle you did not.”

After releasing the footage last month, Durham Police insisted that the pursuit would have been called off if the officer had known a child was on board.

The judge said the speed of more than 90mph in 30mph zones “grossly” exceeded the limit.

“The vehicle only came to a halt when you lost control, unable to take a left-hand turn as a result of the speed you were travelling at,” he told Smith.

“It is a miracle nobody was seriously hurt.”

Smith fractured a vertebra in the crash but walked unaided in and out of court for cigarettes, keeping his face covered by a hoodie.

Joanne Kidd, prosecuting, said: “When the officer approached Mr Smith and arrested him for dangerous driving Mr Smith responded ‘It’s your fault for putting pressure on me’.

“He was subsequently taken to the police station and when he was cautioned he said ‘I will go to jail for this’.”

Smith, who had been banned from driving in March, made an error of judgment when he set out to the shops and that escalated into the appalling driving shown in court, Tom Finch, defending, said.

He suffered from mental health problems and “is a young man who has limitations”, his barrister said.

Smith has never had a job and had dyslexia and dyspraxia, the court heard.

Mr Finch said: “He does not have the malice that other individuals that appear before this court with serious driving offences have.”

Judge Adams told Smith: “This is the first time you will lose your liberty. I hope it emphasises the risks you posed to other people.”

He jailed him for 12 months and banned him from driving for two years.

Outside court, Temporary Sergeant Sam Turner said: “It was a miracle that no-one was injured in that collision, with the vehicle leaving the road at that speed, somersaulting into the field.

“All three occupants walked away with minor injuries.

“At the time of the police pursuit, the pursuing officer was unaware of the small child in the rear of the vehicle. Had the officer been aware, it is very likely the officer would have pulled back and monitored from a safer distance.”

Published: Friday 30th January 2015 by The News Editor

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