'Maniacal' driver led police on chase through Scarborough

Police chase
Police chase

A man drove his car like a “fairground dodgem” as he slalomed between speed humps in Scarborough town centre.

Richard Furneaux, 31, was “bizarrely” transfixed on reaching the Scarborough seafront after driving to the east coast from Middlesbrough.

But his “maniacal” driving startled motorists who called police after seeing his VW Passat lurch violently from side to side, York Crown Court heard.

Officers followed his car towards the seafront but quickly realised the driver was no ordinary thrill-seeker.

“Witnesses said the manner of driving was bizarre,” said prosecutor Michele Stuart-Lofthouse. “The driver was said to be trying to slalom (around) the speed bumps, swinging the car from side to side.

“The driver himself was behaving bizarrely, swinging his body from side to side as the car carried out the slalom manoeuvres.”

Motorists were stunned to see Furneaux drive straight across them after shooting through a red light on Foreshore Road. He then swung the car round near Valley Bridge and started breaking heavily “for no apparent reason”.

“One witness described (Furneaux’s driving) as being like a fairground dodgem,” said Mrs Stuart-Lofthouse. “He appeared to be maniacally waving his arms around in the air.”

Police tailed the Passat back towards Foreshore Road as Furneaux alternately sped up and slowed down. When he stopped at traffic lights at the Eastborough junction, an officer ran to his car and reached through the driver’s window in an attempt to grab the ignition keys, but Furneaux stepped on the gas, dragging the officer along the road for a short distance before he fell to the ground and rolled away. The officer suffered bruising and grazes.

The Passat finally came to a halt at Blands Cliff where it was boxed in by police vehicles. He was crying when he got out of the car.

Officers suspected he had been driving under the influence of drink or drugs, but Furneaux refused a blood test on the spurious grounds that he didn’t like the examination doctor.

During police questioning, a “confused” Furneaux told officers he had headed to the Scarborough seafront because he thought he was being chased. But he admitted dangerous driving and appeared for sentence via video link from Hull Prison on Tuesday.

The court heard that since his arrest for dangerous driving on May 11, Furneaux had also been charged with driving while disqualified and admitted the offence at South Shields Magistrates’ Court.

He was due to be sentenced last Wednesday in York but, although he turned up for the start of court sessions, he vanished after his barrister warned him he faced a prison sentence. He was arrested later that day at his home in Union Street, Middlesbrough, and given a 28-day jail sentence for failing to surrender.

His barrister Andrew Semple said his client had an “unedifying” criminal record but added that the “extremely unusual” incident in Scarborough was linked to Furneaux’s borderline personality disorder and paranoid delusions linked to drug use.

Recorder Mr K.S.H Miller adjourned sentence for medical reports but said he planned to give Furneaux a rehabilitative sentence, probably under a suspended prison sentence, for the public’s protection.

Furneaux will be sentenced on October 13, by which time he will have been released from his current prison sentence.