Danger driver James Stewart wrecked a police car and put the lives of officers and members of the public at risk during the pursuit through the streets of Glasgow.
High on alcohol and street Valium, he raced the sporty motor at more than 70mph in a 20mph zone, sped through red lights at pedestrian crossings and drove towards oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road, a court heard.
He eventually burst two tyres on the Mini by crashing into the kerb at 50mph and was finally brought to a halt in a “tactical stop” operation by an expert police driver.
The high-speed police chase around Glasgow was reminiscent of car chase scenes from The Sweeney – the 1970s TV show about Scotland Yard’s elite ‘flying squad’.
Stewart, 22, of Glenfinnan Road, Glasgow, pled guilty yesterday (Tuesday) to threatening 51-year-old Glasgow primary school teacher Francis Keenan with a kitchen knife, robbing him of his car keys and stealing his sporty, black-roofed Mini Cooper near Springburn health centre.
He admitted driving dangerously while under the influence of drink or drugs, repeatedly crashing into police cars and driving on the wrong side of the road forcing other motorists to take evasive action.
He also admitted causing a disturbance at Glasgow Royal Infirmary after he was taken there for treatment to a head wound he received as a result of his reckless driving on 12 August last year. He was on bail at the time.
Along with his co-accused Steven Campbell Stewart also admitted shoplifting GBP179 worth of alcohol including three bottles of vodka, and bottles of tequila, Aperol and Jagermeister from Tesco Extra in Maryhill.
Campbell, 22, of Cockmuir Street, Glasgow, pled guilty to stealing Mr Keenan’s car keys and car while acting with Stewart and to racially abusing PC Vijay Munogee, who is of Indian extraction.
The pair had initially denied the most serious charges but changed their pleas to guilty on the second day of their trial at the High Court in Livingston.
Advocate depute John Macpherson said Stewart repeatedly failed to stop for police vehicles and deliberately crashed into them.
He flouted speed limits, driving at speeds well in excess of 70mph on 20mph and 30mph zones and repeatedly drove towards of oncoming vehicles causing other motorists to take evasive action.
He said: “He avoided an attempt by police officers to stop him on Duke Street by driving onto the opposite carriageway and round the police vehicle thereby damaging both Mr Keenan’s car and the police vehicle.
“He was seen to fail to stop at red lights at a Duke Street pedestrian crossing at which a number of pedestrians were observed to be standing waiting to cross.
“He drove at speeds in excess of 70mph on Duke Street and in excess of 76mph along Bellgrove Street, overtaking slower vehicles thereby causing oncoming traffic to have to slow down and move out of the way.”
He said Stewart ignored a second red light at a pedestrian crossing on the Gallowgate where more people were waiting to cross and sped through a third on London Road causing other drivers to perform emergency stops.
He said police pursued Mr Keenan’s stolen car onto Glasgow Green and Newall Street where he overtook other behicles in the face of oncoming traffic.
He added: “After turning onto the A728 Mr Stewart again collided with the original police vehicle in pursuit, causing further damage to the stolen Mini and the police vehicle.
“He continued to drive thereafter leaving the roadway and driving onto a footpath to the side of the roadway. A number of police officers were walking on this pathway and had to get off the pathway to get out of the way.
“Due to the damage sustained to the original vehicle, the pursuit was taken up by another police vehicle driven by an advanced police driver who decided to effect a tactical stop when it became safe to do so.
“At the Cathkin Bypass, Mr Stewart drove onto the opposite side of the carriageway and, on his return to the correct side of the road – travelling at speeds in excess of 50mph – struck the nearside tyres off the pavement causing these to burst.
“He continued to drive, straying as he did so onto the opposite side of the road again. The stolen Mini was brought to a halt and Mr Stewart was apprehended.”
Mr Macpherson said Stewart smelt strongly of alcohol but refused to be breathalysed. He was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where he told medical staff he had swallowed three bags of heroin but refused medical treatment.
Judge Lord Burns said being robbed at knifepoint must have been a “terrifying” experience for Mr Keenan, who gave evidence about his ordeal from behind a screen.
He described Campbell’s claim that he didn’t know Stewart was carrying a large bread knife as “implausible”.
He said Stewart had driven in “the most dangerous way for a persistent period of time”.
He added: “You are fortunate that no-one was killed or injured during the course of this atrociously dangerous driving on public roads and other places.
“You drove at high speeds and caused collisions while drunk and you endangered both the public and police officers.
“It is difficult to envisage a more serious case of dangerous driving.”
He sentenced Stewart to six years in prison and banned him from driving for 11-and-a-half years, ordering him to sit an extended driving test before getting behind the wheel again.
He sentenced Campbell to two years in prison, backdating both sentences to August last year when the accused were first remanded in custody.