Van driver on phone in high speed police chase during lockdown in Coventry - The Coventry Observer

10th Aug, 2022

Van driver on phone in high speed police chase during lockdown in Coventry

A MAN who was on his phone while he was out in Coventry in his uninsured Transit van, in breach of the Covid-19 lockdown, led the police on a high-speed chase before being arrested.

And a judge at Warwick Crown Court heard that Paul Finney was on bail at the time over an earlier driving incident, spitting in a police car and urinated in a police station room.

He was jailed for two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, two charges of criminal damage and being in breach of a suspended sentence.

Finney (30) of Winter Oaks, Sapcote, near Hinckley, was also banned from driving for four years and three months by Judge Andrew Lockhart QC.

Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that by June last year Finney was subject to a suspended sentence imposed for an offence of fraud and a community order for driving while disqualified.

‪At 9pm on June 24‬ police officers at a petrol station in Coventry heard screeching tyres and saw a red Peugeot being driven erratically, so followed it along the A45 Stonebridge Highway.

Finney, who had two passengers, crashed, and when the police went over he was clearly drunk, and became abusive towards the officers when he was arrested.

And in the police car he began spitting over the seats in front of him, as a result of which the vehicle had to undergo a deep clean.

At Coventry police station he continued to be abusive and aggressive, and in the specimen room he failed to provide a breath test and urinated on the floor, leading to another cleaning bill for the police.

He denied being the driver, and at Coventry magistrates’ court he pleaded not guilty and was granted bail – but changed his pleas to guilty on the day of his trial ‪on February 28.‬

Because he was subject to a suspended sentence imposed at the crown court, the case was sent to be dealt with in the crown court, and Finney was again granted bail.

Then at 10.50am on April 9, police officers in a marked car in Deedmore Road, Wood End, Coventry, saw him driving an uninsured Transit van with a mobile phone in his hand.

And Judge Lockhart, who observed that Finney was subject to ‘a full house’ of court orders, commented: “This is during the lockdown when he could only be travelling for essential purposes.”

Mr Windridge said that when the police tried to stop him, Finney sped off along Shilton Lane and then into Lentons Lane, reaching 60 in the 30mph zone.

He then turned onto a dirt track ‘at some speed’ before coming to a stop in a parking area where he was arrested.

Finney claimed he had been the passenger, although there had been no-one else in the Transit, pointed out Mr Windridge.

Errol Balentyne, defending, argued: “Looking at the damage and the dangerous driving, neither of those on their own would have crossed the custody threshold.”

But he conceded: “What aggravates it is his antecedents and the committing of offences while subject to a suspended sentence and a community sentence.”

Jailing Finney, Judge Lockhart told him: “You have an appalling record. On the 17th of April you were sentenced for fraud to 21 month suspended for 24 months.

“Two months later you were out driving. You had been to a wedding and you had got very, very drunk and you were unable to control your car on Stonebridge Highway and crashed. You could have killed people.

“Then you behaved appallingly, spitting in the police car, and at the police station you urinated in the specimen room.

“You were then on bail, and subject to a community order, a suspended sentence and disqualified from driving.

“Those four things should have been at the forefront of your mind, but on the 4th of April you set off to drive. It was during the lockdown. You had absolutely no excuse to be out.

“I must pass a sentence which marks the plethora of your offending.”

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