Redding van driver jailed for three years after ramming police car at high speed

A transit van driver was told he could have killed two police officers when he purposely rammed their vehicle on the M9 motorway near Falkirk.

By Court Reporter
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 3:56 pm

James Wright (32), of Allison Crescent, Redding, was said to have used his vehicle as a “high speed weapon” as he pursued the marked police vehicle and accelerated towards it.

Before the collision Wright had been the one being chased by officers, as he tried to make his escape – at one point turning off his headlights in an attempt to evade them.

Appearing for sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, Wright was said to “mistrust” the police.

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Wright was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday

He had previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and assaulting the two police officers to the danger of their lives on April 24 last year.

The court heard he had failed to stop in the early hours of the morning in Etna Road, Falkirk when police travelling behind him signalled him to do so with their blue lights and then sped off, driving the wrong way on a roundabout before entering the motorway.

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Judge Lord Arthurson said: “You engaged in a course of appallingly dangerous driving on a series of roads, culminating on your arrival on the M9 motorway. You were being pursued by police officers travelling behind you in a marked vehicle displaying lights and sirens.

"You switched off your headlights and weaved in and out of the motorway traffic, driving at a speed of 90mph. Having switched your headlights back on, you swerved in front of an HGV vehicle, causing that vehicle to take evasive action, and performed an emergency stop on the hard shoulder.

“The pursuit police vehicle continued past and you proceeded thereafter to rejoin the carriageway about half a mile behind that vehicle. Accelerating, you caught up with the police vehicle, and, travelling in excess of 70mph in the outside lane, you deliberately rammed the police vehicle from behind.

"The driver of the police vehicle estimated his own driving speed at the time of impact at 80mph. You lost control of your vehicle, and, rotating round the police vehicle, left the road and crashed into trees.”

It was stated Wright had seven previous convictions, the majority of them for crimes of violence.

Lord Arthurson said: “Your driving away from officers to evade detention changed in its nature and gravity when you then decided actively to pursue their vehicle at high speed on a motorway and to strike that vehicle deliberately, thereby using your transit van as a weapon against them.

“I have reached the view the only conceivably appropriate disposal in your case requires to be a substantial custodial one. To assault two police officers acting in the course of their public duty to the danger of their lives is on any view a crime of considerable gravity.

"To do so using a van as a high speed weapon on a motorway in such circumstances as these is, in the context of a non-fatal road traffic case, a crime of quite exceptional gravity, albeit that here, through pure good fortune, the officers sustained no actual injuries.

“I further note from the report your complete lack of remorse for this offending."

Lord Arthurson sentenced Wright to three years and nine months in prison and banned him from driving six years.

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