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Gloucestershire Business News

Prolific offender back behind bars

A prolific offender who was once controversially given a KFC bucket meal, a bottle of Pepsi and cigarettes by police during a 20 hour rooftop siege is back behind bars for his latest criminal escapades.

Barry Chambers, 43, was sentenced to 33 months jail at Gloucester Crown Court on Tuesday (November 22) after he admitted three offences of dangerous driving, committed on separate dates over the last 18 months.

He was told by a judge that he had 'a total disregard for the motoring laws of this country' and that he would undoubtedly resume his lawless lifestyle when he is released from his latest prison term.

Sixteen years ago, in October 2006, the same court heard how Chambers climbed onto a terraced house rooftop to escape police who had pursued him for ten miles as he drove dangerously from Cheltenham to Gloucester.

He spent the next 20 hours on the rooftop, throwing bricks, tiles and masonry into the street below. The missiles smashed house windows and damaged cars and a fire engine.

Elderly householders had to be escorted in distress from their homes by police under the protection of riot shields to prevent them being hit by the missiles.

During the siege, however, police agreed to give Chambers a £9.99 KFC big bucket meal, a two litre bottle of Pepsi and cigarettes, which were handed to him on the rooftop by officers.

Eventually, he climbed down and was arrested.

Subequently, he was jailed for three years nine months and Gloucestershire Constabulary came under fire for giving him food and drink at public expense rather than starving him down and bringing the siege to a quicker conclusion.

The total cost of the police operation and the damage done by Chambers was later put at £47,000.

The force defended its actions, saying "Highly trained police negotiators were involved in talking to the individual, and after several hours he indicated he would be willing to come down from the roof in return for food - a tactic which has proven very successful in previous similar incidents.

"Officers decided meeting this request might help bring a speedy conclusion to the incident, and prevent further damage being caused to innocent persons property.

"However despite further negotiations the individual reneged on his promise.

"At the time it was far too dangerous to send someone on to the roof to remove the individual. Doing so would have posed a serious risk of injury or even death to the man himself as well as police officers.

"Sadly, police efforts at the time were not helped by the fact that a large crowd of mindless individuals gathered at the scene to cheer on the man, despite the fact that he was destroying the property of innocent victims as well as a fire engine, and throwing bricks towards where police negotiators were working.

"The presence of the crowds resulted in more police officers having to be deployed to the scene to maintain order and ensure their safety."

This week, prosecutor Neil Treharne told that on March 6, 2021, Chambers was spotted by Pc Ken Gorton driving along the A40 Golden Valley bypass between Cheltenham and Gloucester - the same road where his dangerous driving in 2006 had led to the Gloucester siege.

Chambers passed the police vehicle in a BMW at speed. The officer followed him and saw the BMW go around the roundabout towards Hatherley at speed and then on, entering Grovefield Way, Chambers cut up a couple of vehicles.

"Road works were ongoing in the area and the police officer decided to activate the emergency lights to indicate to the driver to stop," said the prosecutor.

"However, Chambers accelerated away back to Arle Court roundabout in Cheltenham and overtook another vehicle in a dangerous manner.

"When he got to the roundabout Chambers became stuck in traffic and the PC Gorton pulled up behind the BMW and got out of the vehicle and approached the driver. Chambers then tried to reverse the car while PC Gorton grabbed at the door handle in a bid to stop him from driving.

"Chambers then got out of the vehicle and launched himself at PC Gorton and they both ended up tumbling to the floor.

"By this time other police officers had arrived on the scene, and they were able to assist. Chambers was given a roadside drug swipe, which he failed, and he was taken into custody and was found to be in possession of a small quantity of heroin.

"He stated he was driving a courtesy vehicle. He said that he panicked when he saw the police car put its emergency lights on and he admitted driving dangerously. "

The court then heard about another incident on April 21, 2022.

Mr Treharne said: "At about 2.40am, a police officer patrolling the area of Tredworth observed a Range Rover Evoque travelling at speeds of 80mph in the suburban area.

"The officer illuminated the police vehicle's emergency lights and signalled for it to pull over. The driver failed to comply and continued to drive at high speeds of 75mph in a 30mph zone and over 60mph in a 20mph zone.

"In a bid to get away Chambers drove on the wrong side of the road and slammed the brakes, on causing the pursuing police vehicle to take evasive manoeuvres.

"The pursuit only ended when Chambers entered a dead-end road and was unable to turn around. Chambers legged it from the vehicle, but he was caught by police in the area moments later. The pursuit lasted seven minutes.

"On his arrest he failed to give a roadside breath test or drugs swipe and was taken into custody. He admitted in interview that he had stolen the vehicle and admitted that he was disqualified from driving and that was the reason he panicked."

Mr Treharne said the final incidents occurred on October 26, 2022, when officers on mobile patrol in the city tried to stop Chambers driving a Ford Puma because there was a marker on the police traffic system suggesting that the car did not have correct vehicle documentation.

"The officers activated the blue lights in Tuffley Avenue and the driver sped off and continued along Ladysmith Road and was recorded travelling at speeds of 70mph in a 20mph zone," said Mr Treharne.

"He passed multiple junctions at high speed and had no consideration for other road users as he drove head on towards motorists and mounted the pavements.

"The police had grave concerns about continuing the pursuit because of the speeds Chambers was travelling at in residential areas of the city.

"However, after six minutes the pursuit ended when Chambers crashed into a parked van in Herbert Street. He ran off and was caught by another officer in the area. On his arrest he failed the drugs swipe, having taking cocaine."

The court was told that the passenger in the Ford Puma, who owned the vehicle, said there was very little he could do to stop Chambers. He explained that he thought Chambers had a valid driving licence and insurance to cover him driving another vehicle.

In his police interview Chambers said he claimed he was not the driver, and that the officers were lying saying that he was. He then gave a no comment interview.

The court heard that Chambers has 41 convictions for 114 offences.

The judge, Recorder Don Tait interjected: "Chambers has been convicted of 10 offences involving the taking of a motor vehicle; 10 offences of assault; numerous public order offences; 13 offences of driving whilst disqualified; a number of drug convictions and four convictions of dangerous driving. He is a menace on the road."

Sarah Jenkins defending said: "At the time of his offending, Chambers was in the grip of a substantial drug addiction.

"This habit has been long standing, even though he did manage to abstain for six years. The recent addiction restarted in 2020 and it was costing him £50 a day. Drug addiction has affected his life style and sought help from his GP, but his anxiety prevented him from taking this further.

"Whilst being remanded in custody he has worked with the substance misuse team in prison and has undergone medicated withdrawal.

"Chambers realises that he will receive a custodial sentence today, but I believe there is enough evidence to show that he has taken measures to address his drug addiction for any sentence to be suspended. He has pleaded guilty to all matters."

Chambers admitted that on March 6, 2021, he drove dangerously, drove while intoxicated through drugs, assaulted an emergency worker, was in possession of a quantity of heroin and drove whilst disqualified.

He also admitted that on April 21, 2021, he drove dangerously, stole a Range Rover, drove whilst disqualified and failed to give a sample for analysis.

He admitted being in possession of 0.49 grams of heroin on September 23, 2022.

Chambers also pleaded guilty that on October 26, 2022, he drove dangerously and drove while intoxicated through drugs, drove whilst disqualified and had no insurance.

Recorder Tait told Chambers: "It is quite clear you have a total disregard for the motoring laws of this country. You put other road users lives at risk by your complete recklessness in the way you drove when you were spotted by the police.

"You also put the lives of the police officers at risk by the way that you drive and in the manner that you drove in trying to escape from being arrested.

"It appears that looking at your previous antecedents only prison stops you from offending. Taking everything into account for all the offences you committed between March 2021 and October of this year you will serve a prison term of 33 months. This cannot be suspended."

The judge also banned Chambers from driving for two years from the date he is released from prison. His licence will be endorsed for all other motoring offences.

In conclusion Recorder Tait told Chambers: "That sentence will keep you off the road for a significant period of time. I predict that this court will see you again not long after you are released from prison, when you will no doubt re-offend again."

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