United Kingdom

Man jailed for 32 months for dangerous 32-mile car chase

Joshua Stoddard, pictured was jailed for 32 months by Swansea Crown Court and banned from driving for 45 months after he was convicted of leading police on a 13-mile chase through South Wales

This is the incredible moment a police officer uses his vehicle to nudge a stolen car out of the path of an oncoming bus. 

Joshua Stoddard was leading police on a 13-mile chase when he swerved across the carriageway towards a service bus coming in the other direction. 

One of the pursuing police officers managed to get alongside him and knock his car back into the correct lane with seconds to spare. 

The chase – conducted in terrible weather conditions – ended a few miles later when Stoddard crashed into two other cars causing 'catastrophic' damage to all three vehicles. 

Sending the defendant down, a judge at Swansea Crown Court described his driving as 'outrageous' and said it was only by luck that he had not killed someone. 

The court heard the episode of offending started on the night of October 2 this year. Dean Pulling, prosecuting, said Stoddard was living at a hostel in Quay Parade in Swansea city centre having only recently been released on licence from prison following a conviction for engaging in coercive and controlling behaviour. 

The prosecutor said on the night in question hostel staff became concerned that 24-year-old Stoddard was under the influence of the drug spice and his attitude was described as becoming increasingly 'belligerent'. 

The court heard he left The Strand hostel around 3am and by 3.50am was seen in back gardens in Bonymaen, hopping over fences and going into people's sheds and garages. 

He then entered a house in Bonymaen Road and stole the keys to the family's Ford Fiesta before driving away in it. 

Mr Pulling said the burglary and theft was discovered later that morning when the householders awoke. 

Stoddard tried to lose police by driving the wrong way around a roundabout where he almost hit a bus travelling in the opposite direction

The incident was reported to police and officers were able to track the movements of the Fiesta in the hours after the break-in. 

The car had headed for the M4 and travelled east to the Sarn services where Stoddard's girlfriend got in. 

The stolen Ford then made for Bryncethin where the trail went cold. The prosecutor said this was likely due to the plates on the car being swapped for a set stolen from another Fiesta on October 3. 

However Stoddard was picked up by police again in Heol Spencer in Coity on October 7. 

The court heard an unmarked police car began following Stoddard and initially the defendant was unaware he was being tailed. However when he saw a marked police car he put his foot down and a 13-mile long pursuit in wet and dark conditions began. 

The court heard Stoddard raced the wrong way around roundabouts and down the wrong side of dual carriageways around Sarn and the McArthur Glen retail park, driving directly at oncoming traffic and clipping one vehicle as he did so. 

The pursuing officer lost sight of the defendant at Litchard Hill when he again drove the wrong way around a roundabout but other police units who had been sent to the area found him and continued the chase. 

Check what crimes have been reported in your area: Mr Pulling said at least one of the Fiesta's tyres was punctured by a 'stinger' device in the Blackmill area but Stoddard continued driving along the A4093 towards Tonyrefail. 

As the speed of the pursuit slowed due to shredding tyres on the stolen car the defendant began swerving across the road to try to stop the following police cars overtaking him and boxing him in. 

The prosecutor said that as Stoddard approached Tonyrefail he swerved towards an oncoming service bus and one of the pursuing police vehicles managed to pull along side him and 'push' him back onto the correct side of the road. 

Swansea Crown Court heard the weather conditions at the time of the incident were especailly poor

The defendant then headed for Tonypandy but going down Amos Hill in Penygraig he smashed into an oncoming car and a parked car causing 'catastrophic' damage to all three vehicles. 

As police arrived Stoddard was trying to climb out of the window of the wrecked Fiesta. His girlfriend was in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Stoddard gave a positive roadside test for cannabis but later refused to gave a specimen for a full analysis. Stoddard, of no fixed abode, admitted burglary, theft, two counts of driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, failing to provide a specimen, and driving without insurance. 

The court heard he has 15 previous convictions for 30 offences including for animal cruelty, violence, dishonesty, aggravated vehicle-taking, controlling and coercive behaviour, and non-dwelling burglaries. 

Hilary Roberts, for Stoddard, said the defendant had experienced a 'turbulent and fractured upbringing' including the death of his mother at an early age and had been diagnosed with ADHD and potential schizophrenia. The barrister said the defendant was now free of drugs and was undertaking anger management and other courses in custody with a view to 'wiping the slate clean and starting again'. 

Judge Geraint Walters said it must have been a terrifying experience for the Bonymaen family to know an intruder had been in their home in the dead of night. He said Stoddard had no business even being behind the wheel of a car when he subsequently engaged in an 'outrageous episode of bad driving'. 

He told him: 'You drove with scant regard for anybody's safety including, it seems, your partner. I have rarely seen a piece of driving quite so bad that did not result in serious injury or death. How you did not kill somebody that night I do not know.' The judge said Stoddard had a 'shocking record' for offences of dishonesty and said that at the age of 24 he was already a 'one-man crime machine'. 

Stoddard was sentenced to a total of 32 months in prison and will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence. He was banned from driving for a total of 45 months and must pass an extended test before he can get a licence.

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