Car thief jailed for "most appalling driving" judge had ever seen

Luke Kilminster
Luke Kilminster

A thief who stole a taxi from a city-centre railway station then led police on a 100mph chase has been jailed for two years.

Luke Kilminster, 31, from Helmsley, stole the cab from the taxi rank at York Railway Station while the driver was helping a passenger load her luggage into the boot.

Kilminster - who had turned up at the station straight after an appearance at York Magistrates’ Court on a separate matter - jumped into the cab and sped away from the station with the boot still open and the woman’s case still inside, York Crown Court heard.

He bombed out of the city onto the A64 westbound, driving at speeds of over 100mph, zipping between the two lanes of the dual carriageway and getting so close to another vehicle that its wing mirror was clipped off.

The Hackney carriage then struck a BMW from behind, injuring the male driver whose 11-year-old son was “hysterical and screaming” in the passenger seat, said prosecutor Neil Coxon.

Kilminster, of Elm Court, managed to get out of the badly-damaged taxi relatively unscathed and fled into nearby farmland. Police found him hiding in a sheep trough about five minutes later.

He was arrested but taken to York Hospital after complaining of feeling unwell. He was kept in overnight but the following morning, while the curtains were drawn around his bed, he used his drip stand to smash the window of his first-floor room and “dived” out of the window onto a ledge. He then jumped off the ledge and made a break for freedom, but was found sitting in the hospital grounds by security staff 10 minutes later, again complaining of feeling unwell.

The father-of-one spent two more days in hospital and was then charged with escaping from custody, aggravated vehicle-taking, and driving without insurance or a licence, but for some reason was not charged with dangerous driving.

He appeared for sentence via video link on Monday after admitting the offences. The court was read a statement from the BMW driver, who had been on his way to see his father in hospital when the taxi smashed into his vehicle on the afternoon of September 27.

He said the taxi was “out of control” before hitting his car, which was shunted to the other side of the road, coming to a halt just feet from a ditch and a large tree.

He suffered bruising, a sore neck and still suffered from stiffness. He had since been plagued with anxiety. His BMW was a write-off.

He said the stress of the incident had affected his whole family and brought back memories of a fatal car crash in which his brother was killed two years ago.

The taxi driver said he had to pay £600 to cover his insurance excess for the cab, which was also a write-off.

He had lost personal items and float money worth about £450 at the time of the crash. He had to take time off work and pay to register his new vehicle with the council.

He said he had spent several thousand pounds “just to get back to work”, adding: “I have had a very stressful time since the incident. This has had an impact on my family.”

Mark Partridge, for Kilminster, said his actions were “unforgiveable”, adding that his client appeared to have been “delirious” following the crash.

Judge Paul Batty QC said his powers of sentence were woefully inadequate in this case because Kilminster had inexplicably not been charged with dangerous driving as well as the other motoring offences.

He said Kilminster had shown an “utter contempt for the law”, adding: “CCTV showed you were loitering at the taxi rank, waiting for an appropriate vehicle to steal.”

The judge said Kilminster “could so easily” have killed the BMW driver and his son by “the most appalling piece of driving”.

“This is as bad a case of aggravated vehicle-taking as I have ever come across,” added Mr Batty. “Absolutely appalling.”

Kilminster will serve half of the two-year sentence in jail. He was also given a three-year driving ban.