Freystrop man's 'mad, manic, ludicrous driving' blasted by judge

A Freystrop man guilty of "mad, manic, ludicrous" driving has been warned he had come close to going straight to prison.

James Atherton, aged 20, was spotted by police doing 80mph on Freemens Way, Haverfordwest, in his father's Ford Focus at three in the morning.

Officers followed as Atherton, of Middle Hill Farm, raced through Merlins Bridge at 60mph and reached 90mph as he led them on an eight mile terror ride, taking corners on the wrong side of the road and crossing double white lines.

John Lloyd, prosecuting, told Swansea crown court how a second police car joined the pursuit but Atherton still refused to stop.

As the police tried a blocking move Atherton collided with both police cars, causing £1,966 worth of damage to one and £753 to the other.

Atherton finally drove onto a grass verge and he was arrested.

He told the officers that he had panicked because he had drunk half a pint of shandy and might be over the drink drive limit.

Judge Paul Thomas said he found the explanation ludicrous and decribed Atherton's driving as also ludicrous, an act of madness.

Atherton's solicitor, Simon Mumford, said his client was unable to explain why he had not stopped when first seen by the police.

"There is no rhyme or reason to it. He is a hard working, decent, quiet young man and the reason he gave at the time makes no sense," he added.

Judge Thomas told Atherton that the courts had bitter experience of the consequences of "manic" driving and he was lucky not to be facing more serious charges, assuming he survived the journey himself.

Atherton was jailed for six months, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work for the community. He was also told he would have to pass an extended driving test to get his licence back.

Atherton had admitted a charge of dangerous driving.

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