Jail for driver, 24, who led police on high-speed chase for 32 miles

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A man has been jailed after a court heard how, affected by cannabis, he led police on a high-speed chase on narrow country lanes.

Max Claridge, 24, of Mount Pleasant, Froncysyllte, received a 13 month prison sentence at Mold Crown Court on Thursday.

He was also banned from driving for two-and-a-half years and was ordered to take an extended driving test.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke said that if there had been a collision it could have resulted in serious injuries or even a fatality.

The chase went on for 32 miles over a half hour period and he then slowed down in the village of St Martin’s and jumped out of the silver VW Golf while it was still moving. He ran off but was chased and caught by officers.

The force helicopter monitored the chase from the air and the judge said she had watched the footage from the pursuing police car which showed that the chase went along narrow country lanes in the dark.

The lanes were twisting with many junctions and sharp bends but he had driven on the wrong side of the road and at one stage reached 88mph.

His driving became “more and more erratic” and he was taking “more and more risks,” she explained.

Claire Jones, prosecuting, said Claridge had been stopped by police on December 15, but as officers got out of their vehicle he sped away along the A539 near Ruabon.

Claridge, who was later found to have more than twice the legal limit for cannabis in his blood, sped through Cross Lanes in excess of 60mph in a 30mph speed limit and headed towards Wrexham Industrial Estate on the wrong side of the road.

He turned off onto the A525 and sped off at 80mph before slowing down to 50mph near Welshampton and eventually turning onto the A495 at Ellesmere, heading towards St Martins.

Claridge had a near miss with a Mini on a bridge wide enough only for a single car. He only avoided hitting the car after mounting the kerb, leaving the Mini driver in a shocked state. 

Then heading onto the B5068, he sped through Dudleston Heath travelling at more than 70mph, continuing into a 30mph zone at St Martins.

A stinger device was deployed by police, puncturing three of the car’s tyres, but he continued to drive on.

He then jumped out of the moving vehicle and ran away but he was caught and arrested.

Claridge pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop and drug-driving when he appeared before magistrates.

John Hedgecoe, defending, said it was clearly a prolonged piece of driving which was dangerous over a significant distance. However no-one was injured.

There was no direct evidence of any immediate danger to anyone.

In interview, he was clearly shocked to see the film of his driving and he realised how bad his driving was.

From that moment on he had shown genuine remorse. Claridge wished he had stayed where he was when first stopped. “He does understand how lucky he is that no-one was injured, including himself,” said Mr Hedgecoe.

He suggested a suspended prison sentence and said given the shock his client had received he was unlikely ever to behave that way again.

See full story in the Whitchurch Herald

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