Suspended sentence for man who led police on 85 mph chase

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A man with no driving licence who led police on a dangerous high speed chase along narrow country roads has received a suspended prison sentence.

Joshua Stanbridge, 22, reached speeds of 85 mph as he fled police who had wanted to check if he had a valid tax disc.

Today, Ipswich Crown Court heard how Stanbridge was spotted by a police patrol on the morning of August 23 in Newmarket Road, Bury St Edmunds, who had identified him as driving a potentially untaxed vehicle.

Prosecuting, Michael Crimp said police gave chase using blue lights and sirens giving no doubt they wanted Stanbridge to stop.

But rather than pull over, Stanbridge took off speeding at 50 mph around the Westley Estate then onto minor roads towards Little Saxham then, with his speed increasing to 70 mph, towards Hargrave and Wickhambrook.

As the chase progressed Stanbridge reached speeds of 85 mph, overtook two cars on a bend, momentarily lost control when he clipped a bend and hurtled through Lidgate at 80 mph.

“Happily for everyone there was no-one coming in the opposite direction,” said Mr Crimp.

Police lost sight of Stanbridge’s Ford Focus and found it parked near farm buildings in Lidgate.

After a police helicopter arrived, Stanbridge emerged from woodland and gave himself up.

Defending, Malcolm Plummer described the incident as ‘an appalling piece of driving’.

He said that although Stanbridge had no driving licence, he had been taught to drive by his father on farmland.

He said he normally got a lift to work in the morning but had been let down so had decided to take the car.

Mr Plummer told the court Stanbridge had panicked when he realised police wanted him to stop.

“It wasn’t so much that he would be in trouble with the authorities but letting his father down”, he said.

Stanbridge, formally of Strollers Way, Stetchworth, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving without insurance and driving with no licence.

Sentencing him to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge David Goodin said: “It was lunatic driving.”

Judge Goodin said that being at harvest time, it was lucky he didn’t end up head on with a large agricultural vehicle, been unable to stop and killed or maimed someone.

Stanbridge was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work, pay £200 prosecution costs, a £100 victim surcharge and is banned from applying for a drivers licence for 12 months.

He was also given a curfew for the next 10 weeks to stay at his brother’s address in High Baxter Street, Bury St Edmunds, from 9pm to 4.30am.