Police officer dragged along road by Scarborough drink-driver's car

A police officer was dragged along the road by a fleeing drink-driver’s car during a high-speed chase along the Scarborough seafront.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 10:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 10:50 am

Richard Smith, 32, had been out for afternoon drinks in the town centre and then got behind the wheel of his Ford Focus, York Crown Court heard.

An officer spotted him and a “group of males, clearly in drink”, who then got into Smith’s Ford Focus, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

The officer radioed through to his colleagues who stopped the Focus in Westwood.

Richard Gordon Smith

An officer told Smith to turn his engine off, but he said, “No”, and began reversing as the officer tried to reach in to grab the car keys.

But it was a keyless ignition and Smith, who was swearing at the officer, turned the steering wheel and began accelerating “hard”.

The driver’s door struck the officer on the thigh.

For a brief moment, he was “pushed along” by the car before “bouncing off” as Smith sped away, shouting as he did so.

The officer was not injured.

Smith sped off down Westwood onto Trinity Road and The Esplanade, then down a no-entry road and one-way street as Smith’s passenger was “screaming for him to stop”.

CCTV and witnesses’ dashcam footage showed Smith’s vehicle being driven “very quickly” through the built-up area and overtaking two vehicles against the flow of traffic on “busy”, narrow roads full of pedestrians including a woman pushing a pram.

Cars were parked either side of the street as the Focus flashed by.

At one stage, it nearly collided head-on with two cars on the no-entry road as it was being chased by the police’s unmarked BMW.

Police found the vehicle abandoned in a suburban road.

Smith and a friend were found in gardens nearby.

Smith had injured his ankle after jumping down an embankment after getting out of the car and was taken to hospital for medical checks.

Smith, of Mapleton Crescent, Redcar, underwent a drink-drive test following his arrest.

This showed he had been more than twice the legal limit for alcohol at the time of the incident.

He told police it was a “stupid decision” to drive off and that he had panicked because he thought he would lose his licence.

Smith was charged with dangerous driving and drink-driving and admitted both offences, which occurred in mid-afternoon on April 1.

He appeared for sentence on Monday.

Nick Peacock, for Smith, conceded that it was an “appalling, foolish piece of driving”, adding: “There’s no doubt that this young man has behaved like a complete idiot.”

He said Smith was an otherwise hard-working man who was shocked by his own behaviour.

Judge Simon Hickey told Smith he could have killed the officer who tried to stop him.

He said Smith had effectively used his car as a “weapon” against the officer who “could have lost a leg or lost his life.”

The judge said it was only a matter of luck that a pedestrian hadn’t stepped out between the parked cars and been run over.

He told Smith: “When police officers turn on the blue lights you have got to stop – if you don’t, you’ve got to go inside.”

Smith was jailed for 10 months and given a 25-month driving ban.