Police chase driver facing jail for 90mph pursuit in country lanes

Exeter Crown Court.

Exeter Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A learner driver who led police on a 90mph chase through country lanes with four passengers in the car has been told to expect a jail sentence.

Liam Martin sped through villages in East Devon at high speeds and went through red lights and junctions without stopping during an 18-minute pursuit.

He lost a chasing police car in Woodbury and claimed that a friend had been driving when he was arrested later. The other man was interviewed under caution before he came clean.

Some of the passengers also tried to set up a false trail by returning to the car, which had been abandoned in Woodbury, and damaged it in an attempt to show it had been stolen before the chase.

Martin panicked when he saw a police car with blue lights flashing at the Sandygate motorway roundabout at 1.40am. The police car was actually on another call but gave chase after the Fiesta which Martin was driving raced off at speed.

The pursuit went through Woodbury, Yettington, and Newton Poppleford before he doubled back on single track country roads and went back to Woodbury.

The chase was recorded on the body worn camera of the specially trained police driver who gave a commentary describing how Martin had gone through villages at ‘motorway speeds’.

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Martin, aged 21, of Hawthorn Road, Exeter, admitted dangerous driving at Exeter Crown Court, where Judge Timothy Rose adjourned his sentence for more medical information about mental health issues.

He said: ”This is an exceptionally serious example of this type of driving. It was at truly excessive speeds over a long period with the police mentioning speeds of 80 to 90mph.

“The nature of the roads, albeit it was almost 2 am, mean that if he encountered anyone or made a slight mis-judgment, there was a 99 per cent certainty that death would have resulted, or at least life changing injuries.

“He went through junctions and red lights with four other occupants in the car. I do not know how he has avoided a charge of perverting the course of justice over what he did afterwards.”

He adjourned sentence until March 3 and told Martin he will go to prison unless there is clear medical evidence that it would put him at risk of self-harm or suicide.

Herc Ashworth, prosecuting, said a pursuit trained specialist police driver followed the Fiesta, which was owned by the father of the front seat passenger, for 18 minutes in the early hours of December 19, 2019.

The chase ended when the police lost the car in Woodbury but Martin was traced and admitted being the driver only after he had claimed to be a passenger and a friend had been picked up and interviewed under caution.

The three females who had been back seat passengers pressured the other man to take the blame and blocked him on Facebook when he refused to do so.

Martin only had an expired provisional licence and so was not allowed to drive the car and therefore had no insurance.

Peter Seigne, defending, said Martin has no previous convictions and panicked when he saw the police car. He said he has mental health issues.

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