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Gloucestershire Business News

Driver with no licence, no insurance, carrying a knife, failing to stop avoids jail

Despite a catalogue of offences a 20-year-old Stroud motorist who sped away from police officers, and drove dangerously through red lights with no licence or insurance has avoided jail.

Joseph Swindell, of Rodborough Avenue, pleaded guilty at Gloucester crown court yesterday (Fri) to dangerous driving on 6th October last year in a Mini that he had just bought

He was observed by officers speeding on the Ebley bypass at 3.50am, said prosecutor Ellen McAnaw .

She told Judge Michael Harington the officers began to follow and believed that Swindell was unaware they were behind him.

Swindell was observed to to be driving at 60 mph in a 40 zone, then 100 mph in a 60 zone.

Ms McAnaw said the officers believed Swindell then became aware of the police car following him and drove through a red light in a bid to escape.

The police illuminated their blue lights, but Swindell refused to stop.

"The officer was not pursuit trained," Ms McAnaw said. "He had to slow down, but witnessed him going through junctions without giving way.

"He then went down country lanes, and was lost to sight," the prosecutor said.

However Swindell was traced the following day when police approached the registered keeper of the vehicle who explained it had been recently sold to Swindell, and gave his address.

The mini was found there, and when searched a knife was located inside.

Judge Harington described the knife as 'quite unpleasant'.

"The knife is not a knife that would have an innocent purpose," Ms McAnaw agreed, "It is not one that would be used to cut vegetables for example."

In police interview Swindell said he did not stop 'because he couldn't be bothered to be arrested'.

The prosecutor said he had three convictions for three offences on his record.

Defence lawyer, Joe Maloney representing Swindell said his client had 'problems to do with his maturity and naivety'.

"In many ways the offences were committed on impulse," Mr Maloney said. "He has not been in trouble since October.

"He was very co-operative with police."

Mr Maloney argued that the knife, with a wickedly curved blade, was for 'ornamental' purposes.

"It had never been used in an offensive way. He had forgotten it was in his car.

"I have spoken to him about the foolishness of that," Mr Maloney said.

"This is someone who is twenty years of age. He does have the possibility of employment.

"He has the stability of being able to live at home with his mum.

"She says this is out of character. He is generally a decent lad. Spending his time more productively.

"He has had brushes with the law, but is reaching a turning point in his life.

"He hopes to put this behind him and lead a law abiding life for the future," Mr Maloney said.

Judge Harington observed: "Although it was early in the morning if someone had been crossing the road at the traffic lights."

"Yes," Mr Maloney agreed, "the consequences could have been dire. He has had time to reflect on what could have been the tragic outcome of his driving."

He urged the judge to consider if a suspended sentence could be imposed.

"By driving in the way you did in a residential area you put other motorists or pedestrians at risk or worse," the judge told Swindell.

"You did not seem to realise the seriousness of possessing a knife.

"Clearly the driving was extremely dangerous, putting members of the public at risk.

"It has to be a custodial sentence," he said, "but having thought about it carefully I am going to suspend it."

Swindell was given an eight month jail term suspended for two years.

He was ordered to attend a thinking skills programme, complete six rehabilitation sessions and 150 hours of unpaid work.

The judge imposed a two year disqualification from driving with a requirement for Swindell to pass an extended test.

"I have taken an exceptional course in your case," the judge said. "Young men who drive in that way, followed by the police normally end up in custody."

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