Man jailed after crashing into police cars during transit van theft near Southam
A man who had stolen a contractor’s transit van from a Southam building site hit two police cars as he tried to get away after they had blocked him in.
Grant Horton was jailed for a total of three years and one month by a judge at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to the theft, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified.
Horton (27) of Cashmore Road, Bedworth, was given 22 months for the theft, with a further 15-months for the driving offences, and was disqualified for four years and five months.
Prosecutor Glyn Samuel said that on August 28 an employee of Leamington-based Bennetts Bricklaying arrived on a site at Flying Fields, off Daventry Road in Southam, at 3.20pm.
After he had left the works transit van with the key in, Horton, who was at the site wearing a high-vis jacket to give the impression he was working there, jumped in and drove off.
The driver immediately contacted his employers, and a tracker fitted to the transit was activated.
That showed it going from Southam to the A46 and then heading towards Coventry.
The police were notified, and by chance a police sergeant in a marked car on the A46 realised a transit a couple of vehicles ahead of him on the A46 was the van in question.
He began to follow it and contacted another officer who was in the area in an unmarked car.
The Transit then turned off the A46, and 100 yards down the road Horton pulled into a parking space off the road outside a business premises.
So the sergeant pulled up in the road behind it – but when Horton saw the police car stop, he reversed out, clipping the police car and knocking off its wing mirror.
The officer in the unmarked vehicle, which had its blue lights flashing, saw what happened as he approached the scene, so pulled to his offside to block the road.
“But that didn’t stop the defendant, because he went partly onto the pavement, ramming the front of the police vehicle, and continued for a short distance, despite the off-side front wheel having suffered damage,” said Mr Samuel.
But the sergeant in the marked car was able to overtake the Transit and block it in, and Horton was arrested.
Mr Samuel pointed out that as a result of the collisions the Transit was written off and there was £1,750 damage to the marked police car and £13,600 damage to the unmarked car.
He added that Horton was on licence at the time from a 12-month sentence he had been given in November last year, when he had been banned from driving, for stealing a van from a building site and dangerous driving by ramming police vehicles with it.
Sharon Bahia, defending, said: “It is clear the dangerous driving is for a relatively short time, and after leaving the building site he was initially driving properly.
“When he reversed the vehicle out of the parking place it was the action of a man acting in panic, and he mounted the kerb to avoid the other police car, but there was a collision.”
Miss Bahia said the van had been stolen to honour a drug debt that had built up since Horton’s release from prison.
But Judge Andrew Lockhart QC interjected: “I find it difficult to accept that. He’s gone out with others to steal a Transit van, and he’s done it before.
“He looks like he is part of a gang who steal Transit vans.”