Officer thought he would die as Mini drove into him in Stroud

A POLICE sergeant broke down in tears today when he re-lived the moment a teenaged joyrider deliberately drove into him – leaving him so badly injured that a colleague thought he was dead.

Sgt Simon Laird smashed through the windscreen of the car and was carried for fifty metres, Gloucester crown court heard.

The sergeant said he ‘effectively said goodbye to my family’ in his mind and expected to die within seconds as the car came at him.

When PC Andrew Wood arrived on the scene he thought the sergeant was dead – but incredibly he survived.

The incident happened June 26th 2018 when Fletcher Price, of Bridgeside, Cainscross, Stroud, Glos – who was 16 at the time – and another youth took a Mini without consent and drove it dangerously in the town.

Prosecutor Janine Wood told the court “When the youths were reported for an alleged assault they were seen driving off in a Mini. The police then started a search for the vehicle in Stroud.

“They sighted the vehicle and followed it for a while. In Parliament Street, PC Wood, who was driving, decided to block the road with a police vehicle, preventing Price from exiting.

“However a slight gap was left and Price decided to drive through it. As he did he hit the police car and it rocked.

“The Mini, with the engine revving, was temporarily stuck and Sgt Laird got in front of it and shouted at the occupants to get out of the car. He drew his Taser

“But Price managed to get through the gap and deliberately drove at Sgt Laird. The officer’s legs left the ground and he was flung onto the bonnet of the car.

“Price accelerated away with Sgt Laird still lying over the front of the car, with his head by the windscreen and drove for around 50 metres.

“Price tried to swerve to get the police officer off the bonnet. He landed with some considerable force onto the road.

“PC Wood saw his colleague on the ground and was relieved that he was still conscious. He then went to detain the driver, but Price was not coming quietly and tried to attack PC Wood, kicking him in the chest and put up resistance to being arrested.”

Sgt Laird told the court: “I’ve experienced many things in my career. But the 26th June, 2018 has been the single worst experience of my life.

“I remember shouting ‘stop’ to Price as I was thrown up onto the bonnet and he drove down the road at speed.

“I remember saying goodbye to my two children and my wife in my head, and to my family and work colleagues who I might not see again.”

“I wasn’t knocked over. It wasn’t an accident. He drove at me and with me on the bonnet before I was finally thrown off. Only Price knows what he intended to do at that time.”

Sarah Jenkins defending said: “Price is genuinely remorseful. He wrote a letter to Sgt Laird apologising for what he had done and this was before any court action was pending.

“In the letter he made a number of promises of being a changed character. He has grown up over the last two years and has not been in trouble with the police since he wrote the letter last summer.

“He has shown a determination to address his youth offending. He was still only 16 when the offence was committed. He is a very different person today to the youth of these offencs.”

Price, now aged 18, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and assaulting Sgt Simon Laird causing him actual bodily harm.

Judge Michael Cullum told Price: “You took the vehicle without consent and when the police intercepted you in the Mini you took a course of action which was very serious.

“You did not comply with the lawful orders of the police and damaged a vehicle.

“But what is utterly unforgivable is your actions towards another human being. Sgt Laird was a police officer acting bravely to stand in front of the car.

“The rush of adrenaline made you act the way you did in such an unlawful manner that you drove at him.

“And then there was the position of Sgt Laird lying on the bonnet of the car and you making the decision not to stop, not to try and preserve life.

“I accept you have reflected on your actions in your letter to Sgt Laird. But he continues to suffer both mentally and physically today.

“He risked his life. He thought he would be joining other officers who had been killed in that way.

“However it is not right that this case has taken so long to come before the court. I’ve seen the explanation, but it’s not right for all those involved.

“I also have to look at this case as the actions of a youth, which gives me a difficult balancing act to juggle.

“The set of circumstances for this offence can only be dealt with by means of a custodial sentence.”

The judge sentenced Price to a year in young offenders’ institution and disqualified him from driving for three years.

Because Price had been on bail until today’s virtual hearing, conducted by Skype, the judge gave him till 5pm today to hand himself in at a police station so he can begin his sentence.

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