Jail for uninsured Chippenham motorist who led Wiltshire Police on night chase (From Wiltshire Times)
Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS TIMES to 80360 or email us
Judge condemns driving of car the wrong way on A36 near Warminster
2:58pm Monday 4th March 2013 in Latest News
An uninsured motorist who led police on a 26-mile night time chase has been jailed for three months.
Matthew Saunders, 25, was seen putting on a crash helmet as he sped away from officers who wanted to speak to him about his poor driving.
And when the chase finally came to an end Saunder, of Chippenham, who had a live shotgun cartridge in his pocket, had to be Tasered by cops after he refused to get out of the car.
A judge at Swindon Crown Court heard that five police vehicles, including the force helicopter, were involved in the pursuit.
Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said officers spotted his VW Polo weaving on Devizes Road, Trowbridge, at 1am on Friday, August 24.
When they put on their blue lights to stop him he first put on his hazard lights, then was seen waving his hands around inside the car.
"He turned round and picked up a crash helmet from the back seat and put it on," Mr Meeke said.
"He took both hands off the wheel and drove for a short while without any hands on the steering wheel."
The car went towards Warminster where it accelerated on the A350 to stop officers overtaking.
Saunders then went the wrong way round the Granada Services roundabout, exiting on to the A36 towards Bath and down Black Dog Hill on the wrong side of the road.
The car went at speeds of 80mph in a 60mph zone and the police helicopter also joined the chase as Saunders headed towards the county border.
Avon and Somerset officers laid a stinger device across the road but he just slowed down and drove across the verge to avoid it.
Saunders then turned into Hantone Hill, a dead end road, where he was forced to stop and refused to get out of the car, so police had to use a Taser on him.
As well as the live shot gun cartridge, which he said he was planning to convert into a lighter, he also had an ornamental skull with blades protruding from it.
Saunders, of Great Mead, Chippenham, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, no insurance, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and possessing a firearm while prohibited.
He pleaded not guilty to possessing an article with a blade or point, and prosecutors accepted his excuse that he was moving house at the time.
The court heard he had a long list of previous offences including getting five years for robbery on 2006, which meant he was not allowed to have the shotgun cartridge.
Mark Ashley, defending, said his client suffered from a borderline personality disorder which meant he was on disability living allowance.
He said he drove away from the police because he knew he should not have been behind the wheel, but was in the process of moving house.
Although the driving was bad in parts he said his client slowed down as he went through residential areas and for most of the half hour it was not dangerous.
He said should he be away for more than three months then he said he would lose his accommodation.
Jailing him Judge Douglas Field said: "The most serious episode was going down Black Dog Hill on the way to Beckington.
"That is a dangerous stretch of road and you were across the white line on the wrong side of the carriageway. You avoided the stinger and when you came to a stop you didn't co-operate."
As well as the jail term he also banned him from the road for 18 months and until he has passed an extended test.