Man jailed for hitting four police cars in chase

time:2023-06-09 06:20:05source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center8

A man has been jailed for causing more than £55,000 of damage to police cars during a high-speed car chase across the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Matthew Woody-Jones, 34, hit four Gwent Police cars during a 12-mile (19km) pursuit on the M4 at the Severn crossing in the early hours of 6 April.

Woody-Jones was banned from driving at the time of the incident, Cardiff Crown Court heard on Monday.

He was given a 16-month jail sentence.

"Shocking" police dashcam footage played in court showed Woody-Jones' silver Ford Transit van weaving across lanes during a chase that began near Pontypool in Torfaen at 01:34 BST.

Officers pursued with blue lights on but Woody-Jones refused to pull over, driving at speeds of 60-80mph (97-129km/h) towards Newport and the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Woody-Jones, from Bedminster, Bristol, had 33 previous convictions for 68 offences, the court heard, including three previous convictions for driving while disqualified.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and causing criminal damage at Newport Magistrates' Court.

Prosecutor Martha Smith-Higgins said while on the bridge and heading for Bristol, police attempted manoeuvres to box Woody-Jones - in but he continued to try to evade capture by stopping abruptly and reversing.

"The van then slammed its brakes on... before attempting to drive the wrong way," Ms Smith-Higgins said.

"Officers reversed to block the van, but as they did so this defendant drove forward again.

"As he did, he collided with a number of police cars."

The damage to the vehicles cost the force £56,416 in total.

Defending Woody-Jones, Rhodri Chudleigh said his client had been having financial problems and "panicked" when he saw the police cars due to his previous convictions.

Woody-Jones claimed he had been returning from visiting a friend when he saw officers following him and said he wanted to reach England so that if he was remanded into custody he would be closer to home.

Recorder Andrew Hammond called footage of the chase "truly shocking".

"You placed these police officers in a desperately dangerous situation through the way in which you drove where they had to take controlled but drastic action to bring this pursuit to an end," he said.

"You displayed a complete disregard for the safety of those officers and other road users and drove in a way which truly was dangerous."

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