Man given suspended sentence for dangerous driving on A14
A 21-year-old man from Hertfordshire has been given a suspended prison sentence for dangerous driving and other motoring offences, following an incident in Bury St Edmunds last month.
Tommy McDonagh, of Three Cherry Trees Lane in Hemel Hempstead, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday 24 September where he was given a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He was also disqualified from driving for 12-months and will have to take an extended retest; given a 20-week curfew order; 120 hours of unpaid work; a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement; and ordered to pay a £149 victim surcharge and £150 costs.
McDonagh had previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving without insurance and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.
The charges relate to an incident which occurred just after 6:50pm on Tuesday 6 August, when officers became aware of a suspicious vehicle – a Nissan Primera - which had joined the A14 westbound at junction 44, which is where it meets the A134 in Bury St Edmunds.
Two police vehicles were following the vehicle and then requested it to stop near to junction 41 at Risby. The driver failed to comply with this request and in the process attempted to ram one of the police vehicles, before exiting at the junction with one of the police vehicles still in pursuit.
The Nissan Primera continued to make several attempts to evade officers by leaving and rejoining the dual carriageway, reaching speeds of 90mph and on one occasion narrowly missing another car, before it subsequently collided with an HGV as it re-entered the A14 at junction 43 in Bury St Edmunds, where it came to a stop.
The occupants of the Nissan then decamped and fled the scene on foot. The driver of the lorry was not injured during the incident.
Despite a search of the area the occupants were not initially located and at around 9pm police were informed by a member of the public that a group of males had been seen in the woods and that they had been picked-up by a white Ford Transit van.
This van was then located on the A11 in Cambridgeshire by Suffolk Police officers who continued to follow it into Hertfordshire before it was joined by another Suffolk Police vehicle and brought to a stop on the A10 in Buntingford.
Four individuals travelling in the Ford Transit van were then arrested, with McDonagh identified by one of the police officers as having been the driver of the Nissan Primera. All four were brought back to Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre for questioning and McDonagh was subsequently charged the following day.
The three other individuals: a 19 year-old man from Watford; an 18-year-old man from east London; and a 17-year-old boy from Hemel Hempstead; were all arrested on suspicion of theft from a shop and released on bail, which they are next due to answer on Wednesday 6 November. This relates to the theft of high-value goods from retail outlets in Sudbury on Tuesday 6 August, including Sainsbury’s in Cornard Road and Halfords in Northern Road.
Inspector Gary Miller, of the Roads and Armed Policing Team, and who was one of the officers that took part in the pursuit, said: “I witnessed Tommy McDonagh’s reckless actions with my own eyes and to drive in the manner he did and at the speeds he reached, it is a miracle that no one was seriously injured.
“McDonagh showed complete disregard for the lives of others, and prior to the collision the lorry, he had almost struck a car in an identical manoeuvre.
“It always astounds me that rather than stopping for police when requested, some people place more emphasis on evading officers than thinking about the serious harm they could cause themselves and other road users.
“Ultimately - as proven here and in the majority of cases - it is usually to no avail. We caught-up with McDonagh, charged him and put him before the courts, so his dangerous actions in risking so many lives were all for nothing.”