Man jailed for attempting to escape arrest in police car - Cheshunt

27/01/2017

Handcuffed James Marland, who had been left alone in the back of a police car, that had its engine running, clambered into the front seat and drove off in it.

The 33-year-old turned on the Vauxhall Astra's lights and sirens and escaped from Cheshunt police station in Herts, leading officers on a 45-minute high-speed chase.

Marland, who had been handcuffed at the front of his body, was tracked by the force helicopter as he was pursued by 7 police cars for over 39 miles.

At times he drove the police car at 100mph and, for 7.1 miles, he was on the wrong side of the A414 dual carriageway, St Albans Crown Court heard today, Friday, 27 January 2017. Eventually, he was stopped at Great Amwell near Ware when a 'stinger' was used to puncture his tyres and police cars boxed him in, said prosecutor Richard Sedgwick.

The police had gone to arrest Marland in Cheshunt at 10pm on 9 November last year after a complaint by his partner. He was agitated and officers handcuffed at the front of his body. Marland was driven to Cheshunt police station, where there are no cells, and a van was requested to transport him to cells at Stevenage police station. One officer went into Cheshunt station to collect paperwork while the other got out of the car when Marland became aggressive. When the van arrived to collect Marland he "sprung" into the front seat of the Astra, which still had its engine running.

Mr Sedgwick said: "He activated the lights and sirens and escaped. He was still wearing the handcuffs." One officer chased after and grabbed the car, but fell to the ground and suffered grazing.

Marland sped off and went through a red light. He reached speeds of up to 100mph. In Sawbridgeworth he nearly hit a car coming in the opposite direction.

After his arrest he said he had taken drugs and was having a mental breakdown. He was taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow to be examined. While waiting to be booked in, as 20 members of the public watched, he started to abuse PC Claire Willerton and made threats to kill her.

When he was being discharged he spat on the body armour of PC Lewis Mack and kicked his leg.

Three months earlier, early in the morning on 20 August last year, Marland broke into the first floor flat of a woman and her baby in sheltered accommodation at Rose Court, Hertford. They were not at home as he took a TV, a silver necklace worth £800 to £1000, a bracelet, a Prada handbag, and £80 cash. He was recognised from CCTV, which captured him jumping over a fence. He had been told to leave the area two days earlier by support staff who said he was being a nuisance, said the prosecutor. The police arrested him at his girlfriend's address in Cheshunt where he was found hiding in a cupboard. He was out on bail for the burglary when was arrested and escaped.

Marland, of no fixed address, but from Cheshunt, admitted escape. He also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, making threats to kill PC Claire Willerton and common assault on PC Lewis Mack. He had admitted having no insurance, failing to give a breath or blood sample and not having a licence. Marland had 21 convictions for 44 offences from 2002 to 2015 for offences including burglary and theft.

He appeared for sentence via a video link from Bedford jail.

Defending, Tim Starkey said Marland was drunk at the time of the burglary. He said he knew the flat was empty. He said the escape from the police was never going to be successful and he was at large for only 45 minutes. The threats to the woman officer were "in the heat of the moment and in anger," he said. He said Marland suffers from borderline personality disorder.

Judge Marie Catterson jailed Marland for a total of 3 and a half years. She also banned him from driving for 4 years and 7 months and he must take an extended retest. She told Marland: "You drove with complete, flagrant disregard for the rules of road. It was 45 minutes of highly dangerous driving. It was not a planned escape. It was opportunistic, but was executed with considerable determination without any regard to risks of anyone else on the road."

Referring to the abuse of the woman officer, the Judge said: "You called her all sorts of thoroughly abusive misogynist names and then made threats to kill her. These were extraordinarily nasty threats to a police officer, who was doing her job. 20 members of public in the area were forced to witness this behaviour. Those threats and way they uttered must have scandalised and shocked members of the public."

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