Drug dad who led police on car chase is behind bars

Terry Connolly
Terry Connolly

A Sunderland dad who has been addicted to cocaine since his teens has been jailed for more than eight years after a string of crimes.

Terry Connolly, 36, was arrested three times in just one month for offences including possession with intent to supply a class A drug, dangerous driving and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Connolly, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, was first arrested while he was pulled over on the hard shoulder of the A1, having driven until his car ran out of fuel.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how police spotted him on the hard shoulder during the early hours of the morning and subjected him to a roadside drugs test, for which he tested positive for cocaine.

He later admitted in a police interview that he had been sniffing the drug since early afternoon the previous day.

When the father of two was taken to the police station for a second drug test the nurse administering it noticed Connolly try to hide a bag of cocaine, allegedly worth between £2000 and £4000, behind the seat.

Whilst on bail for driving under the influence of drugs and possession with intent to supply a class A drug, Connolly and a group of other men were reported to have been acting suspiciously in a Tesco car park in Hartlepool.

Connolly later ignored attempts by police to get him to stop his vehicle at around 4am the following morning.

The court was told how Connolly drove dangerously in order to get away from police, and at times was recorded driving 90 mph in 60 zones and 60 mph in 40 zones.

Connolly continued to evade police, driving around six miles out of Hartlepool before turning around and heading back towards the town.

During the 12 mile chase Connolly drove on the wrong side of the road to avoid police stinger devices before officers were forced to carry out a "box in" manoeuvre in order to make an arrest.

He was arrested for a third time in after a "paranoid, drug fuelled assault" on his ex girlfriend.

She told officers how she heard a bang on the door during the early hours of the morning and was surprised to see the father of her son, Connolly, at the other side.

Prosecutor Emma Dowling told how he barged his way past her and carried out a sustained assault.

She said: "He walked in and pushed her to the floor, punching and kicking her, convinced she had been cheating on him.

"After kicking her and punching her several times, he pulled her by her hair and dragged her along the floor into the kitchen, causing her to lose hair.

"Whilst in the kitchen he began waving a knife around, demanding she tell him who was upstairs.

"She replied, telling him that the only person upstairs was their seven year old son who was asleep in bed."

Although his ex-partner of nine years called police, he was not arrested until he arrived back at home, where neighbours called police after hearing a lot of commotion.

Officers attended the address and found Connolly inside, armed with a large plank of wood which he had used to damage the inside of the property. It took several officers to restrain Connolly, even after CS gas had been used.

Paul Currer, defending, said Connolly used his time in custody to reflect on what had happened during his crime spree in September 2015.

He said: "While in custody he has had his first opportunity to get sober from cocaine and think about the effect of what he has done."

He added: "This is a troubled man who has been addicted to cocaine from an early age. As he has got older the problem has increased.

"He is not a drug dealer, he says that the large amount he was found with at the police station was for him and a friend and would have only lasted two days.

"He admitted stealing from Tesco in Hartlepool in order to fund his drug habit and admits that the drug has ruined his relationship with the mother of his son and he just hopes to maintain a relationship with his son."

A statement from her described their relationship as "violent" and making her life a "living hell".

In total, Connolly pleaded guilty to nine offences which included possession with intent to supply a class A drug, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, criminal damage, affray, theft, dangerous driving, possession of a controlled class A drug, driving whilst unfit through drugs, and driving without insurance.

He was jailed for eight and a half years, which included a seven-year mandatory sentence for his third drug dealing conviction.

Judge Tim Gittins said: "You have been addicted to drugs for many years. It has blighted the life of not only you, but others around you, including your son.

"I am pleased that you have joined the prison darts team to take your mind off drugs and I would like that to continue.

He added: "I think you have accepted your relationship with your ex partner is over, but one positive that can be taken from this is that she is allowing you to see your son."

He was also banned from driving for four years and must complete an extended driving test before he can drive again.