Driver drove van at police officer

A DELIVERY driver is free to get behind the wheel today - despite speeding at a police community support officer who had ordered him to stop.

A DELIVERY driver is free to get behind the wheel today - despite speeding at a police community support officer who had ordered him to stop.

Richard Westley left PCSO Kevin Smith shaken and suffering from hand injuries after the frightening incident in Ipswich on June 9.

The officer had approached Westley at Barrack Corner, where he had stopped to make a delivery, after spotting his van illegally parked.

Although the 46-year-old of Woodbridge Road, Ipswich denied being the vehicle's owner, he opened the driver's door and started the engine.

PCSO Smith stepped in front of the van, raising his left hand and shouting for Westley to turn off the ignition.

However, the dad-of-three ignored the officer's demands and instead repeatedly accelerated towards him before braking sharply.

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South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard how the van's bonnet struck PCSO Smith's hand three times.

In PCSO Smith's statement, which was read to the court by prosecutor Stephen Colman, he told how he had “feared the driver would run me over”.

The officer moved to the side of the van after noting the registration number, before Westley sped away.

PCSO Smith said: “The tyres screeched, missing me by no more than two feet.”

Westley was snared at Tower Ramparts when a security guard who had heard what happened contacted police.

PCSO Smith complained of a throbbing hand after the incident was prescribed painkillers by medics at the Riverside Clinic in Ipswich to combat soft tissue damage.

However, despite admitting a charge of assault, justices told self-employed Westley they would not use their powers to disqualify him from driving. Instead, he was given a �300 fine and ordered to pay �100 in compensation to his victim.

Ian Duckworth, mitigating, said his client was the sole bread-winner and a disqualification would punish his family.

Chairman of the bench Michael Osborne told Westley: “We are concerned that when a policeman asks you to stop you don't, particularly when you are someone who has to drive for business purposes. We expect better standards.

“If we ban you, we are punishing your family and we are not prepared to do that.

“This behaviour is not condoned by this court and if you are brought back again it will be dealt with more seriously.”

Westley, who has no previous convictions, was also told to pay �43 in court costs and a �15 victim surcharge.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “The sentence is fair enough.

“But van drivers are just trying to do a job. I was in the shop for probably ten seconds, in and out. The laws need to be looked at.”

Was Westley's sentence fair? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail