Speeding driver jailed after putting child ‘in gravest danger’

Queuing traffic on the M5Image copyright Highways England
Image caption The collision caused several miles of tailbacks on the M5

A man who drove at 90mph (145km/h) with a child in his car before crashing into a police vehicle has been jailed.

Wayne Smith tried to evade officers on the M5 in Somerset when he lost control and ploughed into the side of the patrol vehicle, which caught fire.

Sentencing at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Judge Barry Berlin said he had exposed the young child “to the gravest danger in an appalling way”.

Smith, 27, of Mile Oak, Tamworth, was jailed for two years and two months.

‘Unblemished record’

The court heard how Smith had assaulted a woman during a row at an address in Staffordshire on 4 August before taking the child without her knowledge and driving 260 miles to Newquay, Cornwall, the following day.

His car was spotted the next day heading northbound on the M5 back towards the Midlands.

Officers tried to box Smith in between junction 22 and junction 21, near Weston-super-Mare, at about 21:00 BST on 5 August.

But Smith “accelerated” away and veered left on to the hard shoulder to evade the marked cars, said Oliver Woolhouse, prosecuting.

Smith undertook three vehicles then “swerved” to avoid another patrol car and lost control, ploughing straight into the side of a marked police BMW 4×4.

Restraining order

A police car was hit with such force it flipped over several times, trapping the officer, and then caught fire.

Officers found Smith, who was not wearing a seatbelt, still in the driver’s seat.

The child, who escaped serious injury, had ended up in the foot well of the passenger seat because Smith failed to fasten the youngster in, the court heard.

Smith was being sentenced following his conviction after trial in February of common assault, child cruelty, dangerous driving and causing actual bodily harm to the police officer. He was acquitted of false imprisonment and sexual assault.

He was also banned from driving for three years and given a restraining order.

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