Police chase Leeds banned driver crashed stolen car and fell in pond

A banned driver at the wheel of a stolen car led police on a high speed chase in Leeds before crashing into a wall, a court heard.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 5:26 pm

Lee Cunningham crashed the stolen Ford Fiesta he was driving after police used stinger devices to burst the tyres.

Cunningham, 32, fled on foot but was caught after falling into a pond.

Stephen Littlewood, prosecuting, said the car - worth around £8,000 - was stolen after the keys were taken in house burglary at around 6am on March 20.

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Lee Cunningham

Mr Littlewood said Cunningham,of Poole Crescent, Cross Gates, told police he was aware the Fiesta was stolen when he bought it later that day for around £200.

Police spotted Cunningham at the wheel of the Fiesta on Rothwell Lane, Oulton, just after 10pm that night.

There was a woman in the front passenger seat and a man in the back of the car.

Cunningham did a three point turn and drove away from officers, who lost the car before spotting it again 15 minutes later on Wood Lane, Rothwell.

During a four minute long chase, Cunningham overtook vehicles at 80mph in a 30mph zone and drove at speed the wrong way along a dual carriageway.

He drove at 70mph in a 30mph speed zone and went the wrong way round a roundabout.

Mr Littlewood said police deployed a stinger device to burst the Fiesta's tyres on Calverley Road.

The Fiesta crashed into a wall and Cunningham, who fled on foot, was arrested after falling into a pond.

Mr Littlewood said black tape had been used to make a letter F on the registration plate look like an E.

The court heard Cunningham only had a provisional driving licence and had been banned from driving since 2009.

Robin Frieze, mitigating, said: "He panicked when the police tried to stop him, for obvious reasons."

Mr Frieze said Cunningham was jailed for burglary in 2017 and was released from that sentence at the start of Covid lockdown in 2020.

Mr Frieze said: "He found it very difficult. He had been in for quite some time and came out to a world in which there was very little support."

Cunningham admitted handling stolen goods, dangerous driving, driving while banned and without insurance.

He has 21 previous convictions for 61 offences.

Jailing Cunningham for 18 months, Recorder Tony Hawks told him: "It was hardly surprising when police saw you that you panicked and drove at over 80 in a 30 limit.

"You could have killed yourself, you could have killed somebody else."

Recorder Hawks also handed Cunningham a 33 month driving ban.