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Danger driver crashed stolen van as he tried to flee police

A danger driver crashed a stolen van while trying to get away from the police.

By Karon Kelly
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 2:32 pm

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The owner of the transit, which had been parked in Throckley, Newcastle, realised it had been taken when a tracker notification informed him it was moving on August 1 2020.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he was able track where the vehicle was going and police spotted it on Hylton Road in Sunderland, with Stephen Smiles behind the wheel.

Prosecutor Jane Foley told the court: "He began to make off at speed and officers activated sirens and blue lights.

Stephen Smiles.

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"Where there was 20mph restrictions, the defendant drove at 60mph.

"He failed to give way, causing a bus to quickly stop.

"He drove across a pedestrian island and collided with roadside furniture.

"He was observed to drive on the wrong side of the road, into oncoming traffic, forcing other road users to stop.

"The vehicle continued to travel at excess speed through narrow streets and back lanes before eventually colliding with a parked Golf."

Smiles then ran off but was caught after a chase on foot.

The court heard the owner had bought the vehicle to convert it into a camper van and said it was worth £5,000.

Smiles, 31, of Edwin Street, Sunderland, admitted theft and dangerous driving.

Barry Robson, defending, said Smiles has stayed out of trouble since, has work as a mechanic and is willing to work with the probation service to address hisproblems.

Judge Julie Clemitson sentenced Smiles to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements, 120 hours unpaid work and a 12 month road ban with extended test requirement.

The judge told said it would have been "so easy" for someone to have been injured or killed.

He told Smiles: "You reached high speeds of 60mph in a 20mph zone.

"Those speeds limits are there for a reason."