August 1 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
A banned driver who overtook cars on a blind bend and drove like “a bat out of hell” through a Suffolk village during a police chase has been jailed for 15 months for dangerous driving.
Richard Smith had denied being behind the wheel of his Mercedes on November 2 last year and claimed that someone who knew he left his car keys in the glove compartment must have been driving the vehicle – but his version of events was rejected by a jury.
Sentencing the 47-year-old, Judge David Goodin said he had no doubt Smith was behind the wheel of the car during the police chase and described his driving as “extremely dangerous”.
He said Smith had driven “like a bat out of hell” through the village of Cavendish and said police officers who were pursuing Smith’s car had been told by their control room to stop the chase because it was too dangerous to continue.
Judge Goodin said the dangerous driving was aggravated by the fact that Smith was a banned driver following a drink-driving conviction in 2012 and he had also lied about that conviction to get insurance.
He said he had heard “poignant” mitigation on Smith’s behalf regarding the death of his wife from cancer five years ago and that his two daughters would suffer if he was sent to prison.
However, he said he was unable to suspend the sentence and Smith would have to go straight to prison.
Smith, of Stour Close, Glemsford, had denied dangerous driving on the A1092 and driving while disqualified on November 2 last year but was convicted after a trial at Ipswich Crown Court. He had earlier admitted fraudulently obtaining an insurance certificate.
In addition to jailing him Judge Goodin banned Smith from driving for three years.
During his trial the court heard that a police officer who arrested him for drink-driving in 2012 saw him standing by the driver’s door of his Mercedes near the Cherry Tree pub in Glemsford at around 3pm on November 2 last year.
The officer, who was driving a marked police car, parked down the road and saw Smith drive past shortly afterwards.
He activated his vehicle’s siren and flashing lights but the Mercedes had accelerated away.
During the chase that followed the Mercedes overtook a line of six or seven cars including two on a blind bend. The car was also driven at up to 70mph in a 30mph speed limit in Cavendish.
Giving evidence Smith said he bought the Mercedes and took out insurance in preparation for going back to work and getting his licence back but had not driven the vehicle.
He had left the keys to the vehicle in the glove compartment and had invited people he knew to use it whenever they wanted.
Joanne Eley, for Smith, said her client and his daughters had been left devastated by his wife’s death and he had become depressed and started drinking.
She urged the court not to send Smith straight to prison because of the effect it would have on his daughters.
“To lose their father for any period of time from their daily lives will devastate them,” she said.