Learner driver who led police on high speed chase through streets of Meanwood in court for dangerous driving

A man behind the wheel without a licence "wanted to test his driving skills" a court heard after he ended up in a police chase.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Police were already looking for the Ford Fiesta on the afternoon of April 28 this year after hearing that the car, which belonged to the defendant's girlfriend, was being driven by someone without a licence.

At around 4pm that day they spotted the car on Meanwood Road, being driven by Rhys Simpson, and tried to stop the Fiesta with blue lights and sirens but Leeds Crown Court heard that he made off resulting in a police chase that lasted around 10 minutes.

Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, told the hearing on Wednesday that police pursued the car to Bentley Lane, Stainbeck Avenue and Stonegate Road and Simpson, by now, was doing around 60mph even though speed limits were, in places, 20mph. He undertook vehicles and overtook a number of cars on a sweeping bend that has poor visibility.

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Rhys Simpson was told by a judge at Leeds Crown Court that he could have been facing more serious charges after various pieces of dangerous driving through Meanwood.

At some traffic lights on Parkside Road he went straight through at more than 70mph and narrowly avoided a collision with a van. Whilst driving at around 50mph on Church Lane and Green Road, two cars and a bus had to take evasive action before Simpson went through another set of red lights. He swerved around cars on Bowood Avenue causing another car to mount the pavement to avoid a crash.

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The court heard that Simpson, aged 20, works as an order picker in a milk-yard and has been in employment since he left school at 16 and used to be a mechanic. Whilst he is a named driver on the insurance policy for the car, he only has a provisional licence and was charged with dangerous driving and driving without a licence.

Peter Byrne, defending, said: "He went for a drive to test his skills and when he saw police he realised what was about to happen and panicked."

His Honour Judge Khokhar said: "What you did on this particular day, you could have been standing here facing a much more serious charge. Your driving for over ten minutes while being pursued by the police was so dangerous, there were a number of occasions where other road users had to take evasive action to avoid colliding with your vehicle. There are at least three occasions where you went through red lights at speed. There are so many different pieces of dangerous driving in this case, that the risk, thank God, of a collision taking place did not materialise."

Simpson was given a 12 month detention order suspended for 18 months, disqualified from driving for two years, ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £150.

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