'The fun stops here' as Newtown stretch limo racer jailed

Reporter:

Court Reporter

A drunken stretch limo driver who led police on a 20-minute chase has been jailed.

For part of the journey he had three passengers who had been out celebrating a birthday and he asked officers “how funny was that?” when he eventually stopped.

Jonathan James Mitchell told a police officer: “I bet you never thought you would chase a limo.”

But a crown court judge told him last week that the “fun stops here”.

Mold Crown Court heard how police followed the white stretch limo as it weaved in the road and was inches away from hitting an on-coming articulated truck.

He dropped his passengers off and then drove through the centre of Newtown – and he even tried to do a hand-brake turn, causing the limo to skid, in his bid to get away.

Dash cam footage from a pursuing police car was played to the court.

Judge Niclas Parry told him: “You thought it was funny.

“The fun stops here, I am afraid.”

Judge Parry said that it was a shocking piece of driving that involved “near death experiences for you and for your passengers” on more than one occasion.

“This was a frightening course of driving,” he said.

Judge Parry said that after viewing police dash cam footage of the chase, he could understand why an officer said that he had not seen worse driving in 14 years in the job.

Mitchell, 27, of Orchid Walk, Maesyrhandir, Newtown, was jailed for 14 months and banned from driving for 25 months after he admitted dangerous driving, drink driving, no licence and no insurance. He must take an extended driving test.

Prosecutor Simon Mills said officers saw the white limousine driving from the direction of Caersws along the A489 towards Newtown on August 23.

It was just before midnight and the limo was veering from side to side in the road, crossing central white lines.

Mr Mills said that there was one “truly terrifying incident” when the limo nearly hit an on-coming articulated truck. It was inches away from the lorry,” he said.

Officers in two vehicles tried to stop the limo but it drove through red traffic lights at roadworks, dropped three passengers off at Maesyrhandir, and set off again.

The limo was registered as off road, and had no MoT or insurance. But it was driven at 50mph in a 30mph area and when police tried to over-take at one stage he moved out and struck a police car.

He skidded around one corner as if he had done a hand-brake turn, went through another red light and then drove at 60mph in a 30mph area, repeatedly driving on the wrong side of the road.

The defendant stopped in Sarn at 12.15am and clearly believed that it was funny, said Mr Mills.

He was almost twice the drink- drive limit with a reading of 66 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, the limit being 35.

Defending barrister Hannah Gordon said that he accepted the seriousness of what he had done and was expecting custody.

He had pleaded guilty immediately in the magistrates’ court, had been out of trouble since 2013 and had no previous motoring convictions.

Mitchell had been able to stop drinking and remained out of trouble. But he broke up with his girlfriend, there had been employment issues and he relapsed into his old ways.

“He accepts full responsibility. He knows he should not have done it and does regret it,” she said.

Miss Gordon said there were alternative sentences available in the community. Letters from his mother and a former employer showed another side to him.

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See full story in the County Times

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