63-year-old with no licence gets suspended sentence after 100mph police chase
A 63-year-old motorist who had never had a driving licence drove at 100mph on the hard shoulder of the M6 to escape from police who were in pursuit, a court heard.
The chase, which began in Birmingham, finally ended in Wolverhampton when Melville Harris was cornered by police.
Officers who confronted him said his eyes were ‘almost closed’ and his speech slurred but he tested negative for alcohol and drugs. The court heard he was severely depressed after the break-up of his long-term relationship with the mother of his three sons.
Harris was spotted by police on patrol in Alum Rock, Birmingham, just after midnight on December 13 last year, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard. Officers were suspicious when he stopped on seeing their marked police car at a junction ahead, and flashed to let them through.
There was ‘a stand-off’ between the two vehicles before Harris was forced by traffic backing up behind him to drive on, said Miss Siobhan Collins, prosecuting. The police activated their blue lights and sirens but Harris accelerated away through residential streets, initially doing 40mph in a 30mph, but later reaching speeds of 80mph, sometimes driving on the wrong side of the road and travelling ‘erratically’. He also went through red lights and overtook a taxi, forcing the driver to brake and pull over.
On the M6, where two lanes were closed due to roadworks, he undertook a lorry and drove on the hard shoulder at speeds of up to 100mph, at one stage hitting a traffic cone that span off into the path of oncoming traffic, although no accident occurred.
Police were forced to call off the pursuit because of the danger to other motorists.
However, Harris was spotted by officers in Wolverhampton shortly before 1am driving on the A463 heading towards Bilston. He sped away from them, driving the wrong way down the Black Country Route and the Black Country New Road. By this time a police helicopter had joined the chase.
Harris was followed around Moxley island and eventually stopped in Dale Street, before being taken to Oldbury police station for questioning. The court heard he had been banned from driving twice before for not having a licence. Mr Dean Easthope, defending, said Harris had never had a driving licence, and that the silver Peugeot he had been driving had been trusted to him by a friend for safekeeping while he was on holiday.
He said Harris had been devastated and extremely depressed after his life partner left him to start a new relationship with a close friend of his. Mr Easthope described him as ‘a mild-mannered, broken but proud’ man who had kept his feelings from his family.
Harris, of Flint Way, Stechford, Birmingham, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years, with a 30-day rehabilitation requirement. He was also ordered to do 120 hours’ unpaid work and disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to pay £200 costs.
Recorder William Edis, QC, said he accepted Harris was genuinely remorseful.