Sheffield soldier who led cops on drunk chase spared jail as ‘country owes him debt of service’

A boozed-up soldier with an exemplary record has been spared from prison after he sparked a police chase as he drove away from officers.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 9:24 am

Paratrooper Josh Roberts, aged 27, of Stone Street, Mosborough, Sheffield, was spotted by police driving a Hyundai vehicle at speed near Moss Way and Station Road, Mosborough, in Sheffield, according to a Sheffield Crown Court hearing.

Prosecuting barrister Richard Davies told the hearing on March 31 Roberts appeared to stop for police after they had illuminated their lights but he suddenly accelerated away to Westfield Southway driving at 60mph in a 30mph zone.

Roberts reached Moss Way junction without stopping, according to Mr Davies, and another police vehicle joined the pursuit and he was pursued on Eckington Way at 70mph before driving to Drake House Way and Eckington Way at about 60mph.

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Police tape is pictured as police officers stand guard (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Mr Davies said the defendant went around a roundabout before going through red lights and travelling down Moss Way at speeds estimated at 80mph in a 40mph zone.

Roberts reached speeds of 70mph in a 40mph zone and about 90mph at Rother Valley Way before turning into Station Road and the White Rose Business Park, according to Mr Davies.

Mr Davies said Roberts got out of the vehicle and ran off and a third police vehicle arrived at the business park where the defendant was detained nearby.

The defendant, who has one previous conviction, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and to exceeding the alcohol drink-drive limit after the incident on May 10, 2020.

Andrew Smith, defending, said Lance Corporal Roberts is a serving soldier coming to the end of nine years of service and he is due to start a landscaping, block-paving and drainage business.

Roberts’s commanding officer described him as a competent and experienced soldier with the Parachute Regiment with three operational tours in the Middle East.

He added Roberts has regularly held positions of responsibility beyond his rank and he has excelled giving up time to be held at high-readiness to ease pressure on peers.

Mr Smith said: “He’s coming to the end of a career in which he has made significant achievements and he is looking forward to settling down.”

He added the only explanation why Roberts did not stop is that he realised he was over the drink-drive limit.

Mr Smith said: “This is a soldier with a significant credit balance in his society bank account.”

The court heard a custodial sentence would have meant a discharge from the military but a suspended prison sentence may mean the defendant’s rank will be reduced to a private with other implications.

Recorder Michael Fanning said: “He was an exemplary soldier and however it ends for him it is a sad end to what was a good career.”

He added Roberts’s life was the Army and the country owes him a debt for his service and because of that it would be possible to impose a suspended prison sentence.

Roberts was sentenced to eight months of custody suspended for 18 months with 150 hours of unpaid work. The defendant was also disqualified from driving for 14 months.

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