Learner driver’s ‘moments of madness’ police chase

Police chase
Police chase
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A learner driver led police on a high-speed chase during a ‘few moments of madness’, a Sheffield court heard.

Joshua Townsend, aged 21, panicked when officers on patrol in Dalton, Rotherham, spotted him at the wheel of a Citroen Saxo and knew he was not qualified.

The police activated their blue flashing lights and siren and Townsend pulled into the side of the road as if to stop – then suddenly sped off at 50mph in a 30mph zone.

With the police in pursuit, he drove along Doncaster Road, before turning into Magna Lane on the wrong side of the road, forcing an oncoming vehicle to swerve to avoid a collision.

Townsend then raced along the streets of Thrybergh above 30mph, overtook a vehicle on a blind bend and again narrowly missed another car.

Carl Fitch, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court officers lost sight of the Saxo, but then found it parked up on Deer Park Road,

He said the chase lasted for a few minutes over about a mile of residential roads.

Townsend, of Goosecroft Avenue, Thrybergh, then phoned police claiming his car had been stolen.

However, after officers went to his house he changed his account and told them: “I’m sorry. I lied. I just panicked.”

Townsend admitted dangerous driving and not having a full driving licence on October 29 last year.

Andrew Swaby, mitigating, said: “He had been out with a friend and has panicked and driven off.

“It was relatively short and there were no collisions or injuries caused.”

Mr Recorder Keith Miller, the judge, told Townsend: “This was a few minutes of madness which could have led to a fatality.”

He was given a 12-month community order, told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and will have to attend an offenders’ programme for 36 hours.

He was also given a night-time curfew for three months.