Driver crashed into elderly couple's Oswestry bungalow after bid to escape police

Reporter:

Court Reporter

An elderly couple had to be re-housed temporarily after a driver desperately trying to flee police reversed at speed into their Oswestry bungalow.

The force of the impact as the car driven by panicking ex-soldier David Whiteside crashed into the side wall of their home in Unicorn Road meant the gas supply was severed.

Whiteside had been reversing towards a police car for the second time but missed and instead struck the bungalow.

The vehicle was lifted into the air by the collision and landed next to the police car, said Anya Horwood, prosecuting, at Liverpool Crown Court last Thursday.

The court was told the incident began on May 10 when two plain clothes police officers saw a grey Ford Focus matching the description of a car they had been alerted to and stopped it in Unicorn Road.

As they approached on foot they saw Whiteside was the driver and he suddenly reversed towards the police car, colliding with it and forcing one officer to jump out of the way.

“The other officer repeatedly told Whiteside to stop the car but he ignored them and drove forward and he had to move out of the way to prevent being injured,” said Miss Horwood.

It was after Whiteside was again told by police to stop that he reversed and struck the bungalow.

Despite damage to the car, Whiteside drove off at speed and into Oswestry town centre, ignoring the 30 mph speed limit, before abandoning the vehicle about half a mile away.

Enquiries revealed he had been seen going into the nearby Morrisons supermarket where he was found hiding and was arrested.

When interviewed he said he had got the train from Liverpool to Oswestry to visit a friend and had test driven a Focus he was thinking of buying but was not the driver at the time of the incident.

Miss Horwood told the court that at the time 28-year-old Whiteside was on bail for dangerous driving in Liverpool in an incident from October, last year, an offence for which he was later convicted.

Claire Jones, defending, said Whiteside, of Haweswater Close, Tower Hill, Kirkby, knows he must change his behaviour, adding he had panicked in Oswestry and had not initially known police officers were involved as they were in plain clothes in a car with tinted windows.

He had come out of the Army with mental health problems and post traumatic stress disorder. His best friend had died in a car crash before he was posted to Germany and he unfortunately did not seek help but self-medicated with alcohol and cannabis.

“This escalated out of control and he committed offence after offence,” she said.

Ms Jones said the defendant, who appeared via video link, has not been to prison before and he is making the most of his time there and plans to move in with his aunt in Runcorn when freed.

Whiteside pleaded guilty to the Oswestry offences involving dangerous driving, criminal damage, failing to stop after an accident and driving without insurance and a licence.

Jailing him for a total of 22 months and banning him from driving for three years and 11 months, Judge Norman Wright said his driving had involved “some jeopardy to the police officers who had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck... and his intent and determination could be gleaned by the damage not just to the police vehicle but to the house concerned.”

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