Jail for learner driver who rammed police car during chase through Black Country

A car thief who rammed a police car after a high-speed chase in the Black Country has been jailed after blowing his chance to start a new life in Devon.

Wolverhampton Crown Court
Wolverhampton Crown Court

Learner driver Ezekiel Nugent led police on a 10-mile chase on country roads between Walsall and Wolverhampton in a Mercedes which he stole from a casino car park.

He carried on with just three tyres after one of them blew out – and was hunted down by police dogs and a helicopter after crashing into a patrol car and legging onto a canal towpath.

Nugent, originally from Walsall, received a 16-month suspended sentence for dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking at Wolverhampton Crown Court in August 2019.

A judge at Exeter Crown Court activated eight months of the sentence after hearing that Nugent had missed a series of probation appointments and had been rude to his offender manager.

Nugent, aged 22, now of St Lukes Road, Torquay, admitted failing to comply with a suspended sentence.

Judge David Evans told him: "You have been putting your head in the sand, to some extent exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdown. It was perfectly possible for you to attend more meetings than you have.

“I have taken on board the clash of personalities that might have existed and that your rude disdain for your offender manager might show the effect of that.”

The judge said he was reducing the jail term from 16 to eight months to reflect the work which Nugent did under the order, his lack of fresh offending, and the harsher prison conditions caused by lockdown.

Emily Pitts, prosecuting, said Nugent has already been breached once for failing to attend meetings and missed almost half of the 29 he has been offered since October. He blamed child care responsibilities for some of the absences and told his probation officer she did not understand his predicament because she did not have children of her own.

Nigel Wraith, defending, said Nugent was sometimes called on to look after his toddler child at short notice but accepts he could have attended more meetings. He said Nugent comes from a difficult background which included being shot at in an incident in the Midlands.

The Wolverhampton Crown Court case heard how Nugent stole a second hand Mercedes, which was worth £700, from the car park of a casino in Walsall on September 1, 2018.

A 12-minute pursuit started when police, who had been following it for three or four minutes, put on their blue lights and tried to stop it in Poplar Road, Walsall.

The car took off and reached speeds of 75 mph during a chase through residential roads around Willenhall. The pursuit carried on through New Invention and country roads near Essington.

One attempt to stop it with a stinger device failed but it was boxed in in Wolverhampton Road, Heath Town, after Nugent hit a kerb and punctured a rear tyre.

He drove into the back of the patrol car, causing £1,000 damage and then fled on foot before being found hiding in bushes on the nearby canal towpath. The stolen car was a write-off.

Mr Jamie Scott, who represented Nugent at the original hearing, said he was moving to Devon the start a new life and concentrate of being a good father.

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