Banned driver jailed for 11 years

AN unemployed mechanic who zig-zagged down a busy motorway at speeds of 80mph with a traffic policeman clinging to the open driver's door has been jailed for more than 11 years.

AN unemployed mechanic who zig-zagged down a busy motorway at speeds of 80mph with a traffic policeman clinging to the open driver's door has been jailed for more than 11 years.

Joe Butler, 25, of Essex Road, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, was cleared of attempting to kill Pc Geoffrey Poyser but was found guilty of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.

Pc Poyser, 54, of Harlow, Essex, suffered serious bruising to his back and legs after jumping off into the centre lane of the M11 near Stansted Airport, during the incident in October last year.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that Pc Poyser had not worked since and was retiring after a police career spanning more than 20 years. He told reporters he was "haunted" by the incident.


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Judge Ben Pearson imposed a 10-year prison term for the attack and imposed a further 15 months after Butler admitted additional offences of handling stolen property, assault and perverting the course of justice.

After returning the guilty verdict, jurors heard that Butler had a lengthy criminal record, had served prison sentences and had been banend from driving on five separate occasions.

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Jurors were told that Pc Poyser and colleague, Pc Lorraine Mann, 39, stopped Butler, who was with his pregnant girlfriend Sarah Auld, 24, of Derby Green Road, Camberley, Surrey, for speeding through roadworks on the southbound carriageway at junction 8.

Butler had a stolen briefcase and wallet in the Mercedes car and was banned from driving. In order to avoid detection he gave police the name of the wallet's owner - not realising that he was also banned.

Pc Poyser said Butler punched him after being told that he was being arrested on suspicion of being a banned driver. Butler then drove off as Pc Poyser reached through the driver's side window of the Mercedes in an effort to grab the ignition keys. Pc Poyser said he clung on to the swinging open door as the car sped away.

The officer said at one point Butler looked down at him and said: "You are going to die, you bastard."

"I was in a blind panic," Pc Poyser told the court. "It continued. I seemed to go deeper and deeper into - the only word I can think of is panic. I became cold.

"I said, 'you have got to let me go'. I said, 'I ain't worth it'. Something like that. I think he said, 'get off, get off.' He was mainly looking ahead but he looked at me.'

Pc Poyser added: "It must have been when we were in lane three. At that point I had managed to steady myself. He looked down at me, because I was below his head height, and he said, 'You are going to die, you bastard'.'

The officer said he remembered Butler overtaking traffic as he sped along. Eventually the car slowed to about 30mph.

Pc Poyser said he followed Butler after the Mercedes overtook his patrol car at speeds in excess of 70mph between Cambridge and Stansted airport. He then stopped him after seeing the car travel through the 40mph roadworks speed limit at between 45mph and 60mph.

Butler had first claimed to have been having problems with the speedometer and had then given a false name and address.

Butler, told jurors that he had accidentally pressed the accelerator, and was arrested two months later.

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