Dangerous driver spared jail

A MOTORIST, who was in a coma for nine days after his car crashed into another vehicle and burst into flames, has been spared jail.James Ratcliffe spent three months in intensive care after crashing during a high-speed police chase in Nacton and was thought unlikely to survive following the accident in January.

A MOTORIST, who was in a coma for nine days after his car crashed into another vehicle and burst into flames, has been spared jail.

James Ratcliffe spent three months in intensive care after crashing during a high-speed police chase in Nacton and was thought unlikely to survive following the accident in January.

Sentencing the 23-year-old for a string of offences including dangerous driving, Judge John Holt told Ratcliffe that the crimes deserved a sentence of imprisonment.

However, after hearing that the defendant was still having physiotherapy twice a week and speech therapy once a week, Judge Holt said he had decided “perhaps against my better judgement” to suspend the prison sentence.


You may also want to watch:


Ratcliffe of The Crescent, Great Horkesley, was sentenced to 64 weeks suspended for two years and banned from driving for five years.

The judge also paid tribute to the bravery of Pc Jeff McIlroy who pulled Ratcliffe and his girlfriend and the driver of a car hit by Ratcliffe's car from the burning wreckage of their vehicles.

Most Read

Judge Holt said that if it hadn't been for the officer's quick actions Ratcliffe and his girlfriend could have burnt to death and 59-year-old Robert Parker could have suffered more serious injuries.

Ratcliffe was committed to the crown court for sentence for offences of dangerous driving, failing to stop when required, and driving while disqualified. He was also sentenced for driving without insurance, driving with no test certificate, having a defective tyre, possessing criminal property and obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty.

Ian Pells, prosecuting said that Pc McIlroy had initially stopped Ratcliffe while he was driving the Vauxhall Calibra on December 14 and the defendant had given a false name.

A month later on January 13 the officer saw the same car being driven on the A14 at Wherstead and after it left the road at the Nacton interchange he had indicated for the vehicle to stop.

The car had stopped but when Pc McIlroy started to walk over it had driven off at speed with the officer in pursuit.

On two occasions the car had overtaken on a blind bend and had driven at between 40 and 70 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour limit in Nacton village.

The car had eventually come to the junction of the Old Felixstowe Road at Nacton and instead of stopping at a give way sign the car had driven into the path of the people carrier driven by Mr Parker.

The court heard that Ratcliffe had appeared in court on 19 previous occasions for a total of 54 offences including driving matters.

Lucy Osborn for Ratcliffe said at times Ratcliffe was thought unlikely to survive his injuries.

Ms Osborn added Ratcliffe felt ashamed at his previous history of offences and felt genuine regret at causing injury to Mr Parker.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter