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Career criminal caught after dumping car and jumping in Wrens Nest lake

A "career criminal" who was found hiding on an island in a nature reserve's lake after a 100mph police chase has been jailed for over seven years.

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Christopher Straker, inset, was caught hiding in a lake next to Birmingham New Road

Christopher Straker was wanted for a "catalogue of crime" when spotted behind the wheel of a VW Golf reported as stolen just hours earlier, a judge heard.

The 37-year-old defendant ignored the police patrol's order to stop and accelerated down Tipton Road before heading onto the Birmingham New Road in Dudley on the wrong side of the carriageway, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Straker reached more than 100mph, went through three red lights on the way to the Burnt Tree traffic island which he went round and headed back the way he had come still on the wrong side of the carriageway while swerving to avoid on coming traffic in the early hours of June 17, said Mr James Bruce, prosecuting.

Police put a Stinger in his path which burst tyres on the VW but he still did not stop and his pursuers tried to box the vehicle in but he bulldozed his way out of the jam by ramming and badly damaging a patrol car.

But he soon abandoned the stolen vehicle on the central reservation and made a run for it, plunging into the lake at the Wrens Nest Nature Reserve off the Birmingham New Road and swimming to the island in a frantic bid to escape.

Police soon realised where he was, found a boat and paddled across to arrest him.

Straker, who had previous convictions involving 51 separate offences and admitted being drug and drink addled when driving the car, had been a wanted man for five months since failing to appear at court in January to face a charge of producing cannabis.

He had been given bail after police found five plants under cultivation at his home on November 15 2018.

A warrant was issued for his arrest on January 25 but between that date and the car chase he committed four burglaries while on bail, one of which left a nine-year-old boy so frightened his behaviour and personality had changed for the worst, revealed his father in a statement.

The address in Russell Street, Dudley was broken into as the family slept on the night of June 13 and the burglars, who included Straker, stole a wide variety of goods that included money saved by the two children together with some of their clothes, the father's wedding ring, a knife from the kitchen and car keys, one of which was found on the defendant when he was arrested.

Two cars were also stolen from the drive but Straker was not accused of taking them.

He also burgled houses in Fairfield Road, Dudley, Clements Road, South Yardley and Fairfield Road, Dudley, the court heard.

The defendant, of no fixed address, admitted the burglaries, dangerous driving, failing to stop and cultivating cannabis.

He was jailed for seven years four months and banned from driving for three years on release.

Judge Simon Ward told him: "You are career criminal and have become a public menace."

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