Friday, June 05, 2015

British cop chased speeding motorist who made off from petrol station without paying... now HE'S on trial for dangerous driving

He may have deserved a caution in the matter but prosecuting him is absurd

A police officer has gone on trial for dangerous driving – after he chased a thief while he was on duty. Adam Steventon, 39, insists he was simply ‘doing his job’ when he saw a man drive off from a petrol station without paying and pursued him at up to 80mph.

A court heard how he jumped a red light and briefly drove on the wrong side of the road during the three-mile pursuit in his marked police car.

Eventually thief Terence Maugh crashed his vehicle and escaped, the jury was told. But PC Steventon did not give up and chased him across a field on foot before arresting him.

However, the experienced constable, who has been doing ‘blue light runs’ for 15 years, was himself charged with dangerous driving, which he denies.

Yesterday PC Steventon told a jury at Hull Crown Court that he had acted on instinct. ‘I did not think I was doing anything wrong – I just thought I was doing my job,’ he said. ‘I do not think my driving was dangerous or put others at risk at any time.’

The officer was initially told he may have breached new guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which banned non-traffic officers from engaging in pursuits.

An investigation concluded he was following Maugh’s Vauxhall Vectra car too closely.

Recalling the incident in March last year, PC Steventon said he was on duty in Skipton, North Yorkshire, with a special constable and watched Maugh fill up at a Tesco petrol station at around 8pm.

His ‘police nose’ made him suspicious of the poor condition of the car, and when the driver sped off without paying he realised a crime had been committed.

‘My first thought was: I have just seen a crime and I have to apprehend the offender,’ said PC Steventon. ‘My mental plan was to follow the vehicle, so that I could notify the traffic officer on duty.’

The Vauxhall Astra police car followed the Vectra along the A629 towards Keighley before it crashed into a Citroen C4 and came to a halt. The Citroen driver escaped serious injury.

Prosecutor David Hall earlier said the police officer’s driving was ‘dangerous’, adding: ‘We say he crossed a solid double-white line. We say he exceeded the speed limit. We say he followed the Vectra too closely.’

Questioned about his driving, PC Steventon said he went through the red light at roadworks after making a ‘split second’ decision. The officer said he was ‘at least 20m’ behind the Vectra at ‘a good safe distance’ and was able to make a ‘normal controlled stop’.

PC Steventon admitted he had not been given advanced driver training but had completed a standard two-week police driver training course when he first became an officer in 1998.

The jury heard that ACPO guidelines, revised in 2011, stated only police trained to an advanced level should carry out pursuits.

Defending his actions under cross-examination, PC Steventon said: ‘I accept now I was involved in a pursuit. I wanted the car to stop but I did not personally want to stop him. I was fully in control of what I was doing. I was not some lunatic.’

After the incident, Maugh was taken to the local police station and arrested for dangerous driving and making off without payment, the court heard. The case continues.

Original report here

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