‘The red mist descended’... Footage shows truck driver ramming police cars in 40-mile chase
- Credit: Archant
A labourer who led police on a chase through Suffolk and Norfolk in a truck while high on drugs has been jailed.
Father-of-one Nicholas Churchill, 40, left a trail of destruction after taking the 20-tonne earth mover from his employer after complaining about its air conditioning, saying he was too hot to work.
He was followed by six police cars and a helicopter for two hours over 40 miles across Norfolk and Suffolk reaching a maximum speed of 30mph, ramming and wrecking three patrol vehicles along the way.
After he was jailed for dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking and driving while unfit through drugs, Norfolk Police released dramatic video footage of the chase.
Judge Anthony Bate sentenced Churchill, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, to 14 months in prison. He also banned him from driving for two years.
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He said: “You left a trail of destruction and damaged police vehicles in your wake. It was a shocking piece of sustained dangerous driving.”
Footage taken from a helicopter, CCTV and car-mounted cameras showed him veering wildly across busy roads, including the A140, A11 and A13, and dodging police road blocks.
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An officer who was inside one of the cars said in a statement read to the court: “I thought I was going to die, I was petrified and never felt anything like this before in my career.
“I believe the vehicle was so large and heavy it could have driven over our police car.”
A female officer involved in the pursuit said: “In my 30 year career, I’ve been kicked, punched and spat at. I’ve never been so petrified.”
Prosecutor Andrew Oliver said that after driving around the Norwich ring road - forcing cars to swerve out of his way - Churchill headed to the A11 dual carriageway.
He continuously swerved in an “act of aggression” against police chasing him.
Officers deployed a stinger device to disable the truck but its tyres were so heavy that it did not work.
Churchill then drove the truck towards the police officer who was standing on the grass verge to deploy the stinger.
Shoppers scattered as his truck careered down a high street and over a pedestrianised square before coming to a halt near his home in Brandon, Suffolk.
Mr Oliver said Churchill had been working at a quarry near Spixworth, Norwich, at 12.36pm on July 20 last year.
He began his journey after being told the air conditioning could not be fixed and he should carry on working.
In fact, it was a mild day of about 13 degrees centigrade and he felt hot because he had been taking amphetamines, Mr Oliver added.
He said: “This is in itself a dangerous vehicle to be driven on public roads - it is not allowed and was not insured to do so.
“It caused massive disruption and a massive involvement by Norfolk and Suffolk police.
“He put the lives of members of the public and police officers at risk.”
The damage to the police cars cost about £25,000 to repair.
Lindsay Cox, mitigating, said: “It may not have been hot that day but it had been a period of very hot weather and the defendant, for what’s it worth, had repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction at doing hot work in the hot cab of this vehicle.
“He was effectively told ‘like it or lump it, carry on working or go home’ and the red mist descended.”
- Video is courtesy of Norfolk Constabulary.