Safety fears forced police to abandon chase, court heard

IPSWICH: A van driver led police on a breakneck chase that became so dangerous officers were forced to abandon the pursuit, a court has heard.

Tony Mower careered through a red light, smashed through roadworks and hurtled the wrong way down streets in north-east Ipswich at more than 60mph in 30mph zones, it is alleged.

Two police cars tailed him, but were ordered to stand down over fears the chase would endanger thousands of people milling around the town centre for the Christchurch Park fireworks display, a jury was told.

Minutes later, the white transit crashed at a roundabout in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

The father-of-three and two other unknown occupants fled the scene before officers arrived, it is claimed. He was arrested after his blood was found on the steering wheel and windscreen.

Mower, of Burke Road, Ipswich, denies dangerous driving, claiming he was not behind the wheel at the time.

The court heard how police were first alerted when a gang was seen stealing scrap metal from a compound at Ipswich Hospital at around 8.20pm on Saturday, November 7 last year.

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The 27-year-old pleaded guilty to the theft at an earlier hearing.

Prosecutor Robin Dupreez said: “He was one of three men who stole the metal and drove off at excessive speeds in an aggressive manner.

“The chase started in the hospital grounds. Police indicated for him to stop, but he didn’t.

“The van made off at speed along Pearson Road and into Foxhall Road. It was followed into Heath Road, where it was being driven in excess of 60mph in a 30mph zone and went through a red light.”

Pc Tim Barrell, who was driving the lead pursuit car, told the court how the van then crashed through roadworks which had cordoned off one lane of Woodbridge Road East.

He said: “About five or six cones were sent flying out into the road, causing other vehicles to swerve to avoid them.”

Mr Dupreez said the pursuit was called off at that point.

He added: “The van crashed at the mini roundabout in Woodbridge Road (at the junction with Brunswick Road). Three men were seen to decamp.

“The crown says he is the driver. There is no issue whether the driving was dangerous. But the defence is saying it was not him and that he was the passenger.”

When asked if he was sure he was not driving the van, Mower replied: “100 per cent sure.”

However, he refused to reveal the identity of the driver over fears the man may harm his children.

The trial continues.