Clevedon man jailed after running over police officer

Clevedon man jailed after running over police officer

A CLEVEDON man has been sentenced to five years in prison for running over a police officer after a high speed pursuit through Nailsea and Clevedon.

On June 12, Martin Lewthwaite, aged 41, of Cannons Gate, was spotted driving a Peugeot van through Nailsea in the dark without his lights on.

On Thursday, Bristol Crown Court heard how two police officers signalled for the defendant to pull over, but Lewthwaite sped off and led them on a high speed chase through North Somerset.

Stephen Mooney, prosecuting, said: “The defendant showed a flagrant disregard for speed limits, driving up to 60mph in a 40mph area without lights on. He was clearly a risk to any road user or pedestrian who happened to be in the area and officers deployed a stinger in Central Way hoping to prevent him from driving any further.”

The stinger deflated Lewthwaite’s tyres, but he continued driving on his wheel rims until he came to a reluctant stop on the M5 near Weston and was the blocked in by two police cars.

Mr Mooney said: “PC Johnson, hoping for compliance on the part of the defendant, got out of his vehicle.

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“The defendant, sensing the opportunity to escape, placed his foot as hard as he could on the accelerator, careering into PC Johnson.”

Lewthwaite then fled on foot but was quickly found and arrested by officers.

PC Johnson suffered a broken leg, cuts to his head and arm and was later treated for two potentially fatal blood clots on his lung.

Mr Mooney said PC Johnson now suffers from traumatic flashbacks, anxiety and has difficulty sleeping.

At the time of the offence, Lewthwaite was on licence after being released early from a five-year prison sentence for grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent.

The court also heard a list of Lewthwaite’s previous convictions dating back to 1990 for numerous driving offences, burglary, wounding, drug offences, assaulting police officers and GBH.

Charles Row, defending, said: “Mr Lewthwaite expressed genuine remorse about the injuries to PC Johnson. The first he knew of hitting the officer was through his solicitor. His intention was to escape.

“Mr Lewthwaite’s offences are very clearly related to excessive alcohol consumption.”

Mr Row said Lewthwaite, who has two children aged 13 and 14 and is a trained electrician, has recognised that he must stop drinking if he wants to stop offending.

When sentencing, Judge Michael Harington said: “I’ve taken in to account that this was an offence with intent to avoid arrest rather than of the usual intent to cause GBH.

“There’s a significant risk to members of the public so I’m satisfied that in all the circumstances the appropriate sentence I shall pass upon you is a sentence of imprisonment for public protection.”

Lewthwaite was sentenced to five years in prison for GBH, although he could be released after two-and-a-half years.

He will remain on licence for the rest of his life and is also disqualified from driving for three years.