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Man jailed after leading police on high speed chase out of Sudbury

Ipswich Crown Court. (1950320)
Ipswich Crown Court. (1950320)

A roofing contractor, who led police on a high speed chase out of Sudbury while almost three times the drink-drive limit, has been jailed.

Thomas Steven, 34, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday, following the incident last month, which began in Sudbury town centre.

At an earlier hearing, the father-of-three had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, being over the drink-drive limit, failing to stop for police and racially aggravated harassment.

Prosecutor Peter Gair told the court that police in Sudbury, acting on a tip, became aware that the driver of a Land Rover Discovery, parked in the town centre in the early hours of April 8, may have been drinking.

When CCTV images showed the vehicle moving off at 3am, police officers attempted to stop the Land Rover in Waldingfield Road, but, instead, it turned around and then drove along the pavement to escape.

After repeating the manoeuvre to avoid a police van, Steven headed out of Sudbury on the A134 towards Colchester, reaching speeds of up to 75mph through 30mph limits, with police officers in pursuit.

Leaving the village of Newton Green, Steven travelled at high speed around a blind bend on the wrong side of the road and, on reaching Honey Tye, near Leavenheath, turned off down a lane and on to a farm track.

Police were unable to follow Steven on to a ploughed field, but he then turned around and came back towards the officers before going into a ditch.

Steven managed to get the Land Rover out to continue driving, but went into a second ditch shortly afterwards and became stuck.

Mr Gair said police found Steven sitting at the wheel muttering, clearly drunk, while his female passenger was distraught and in tears.

The court heard that, while being taken into custody, Steven had made racist remarks and asked officers: “I don’t make bombs – why am I in cuffs?” said Mr Gair.

Following his arrest, Steven had engaged in “bizarre” behaviour, struggling so violently against his handcuffs that he scarred his wrists and making racist comments to two police officers, to whom they could not have applied.

Tests showed that Steven was almost three times the drink-drive limit.

Richard Reynolds, Steven’s barrister, told Judge John Devaux: “It is the suspicion of the defendant that his drink was spiked.”

Jailing him for a total of 12 months and imposing a three-and-a-half year driving ban, Judge Devaux noted that Steven, a resident of Coggeshall Road, Stisted, had been convicted of a previous drink-drive offence in 2016.

Mr Reynolds said his client had planned to have a quiet dinner at home that night but had ended up at a nightclub in Sudbury for a surprise party to celebrate his birthday.

Mr Reynolds said Steven’s bizarre behaviour may have been explained by his drink being spiked or because he had been experiencing very difficult circumstances as a settled member of the travelling community whose family had been subjected to threats of violence.

Steven had himself been subjected to racism and was “stunned” to find out what he had said to the two officers.