South Shields man stole police officer's van - then crashed into car and telegraph pole

A South Tyneside man has been banned from the road for a year after stealing a van from a police officer and crashing it into a car and telegraph pole - writing off both vehicles.
Paul Todd appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.Paul Todd appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
Paul Todd appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

Paul Todd, 31, had asked the officer - who also employs him in his plastering business - to lend him the keys so that he could borrow some tools, South Northumbria magistrates heard.

The court heard Todd, of Cheviot Road, South Shields, had no intended of driving the vehicle but, because he was upset about the breakdown of his relationship, went drinking in a nearby pub then decided to drive the van from Gateshead to his South Shields home.

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Laura Croft, prosecuting, said: “On September 24, the defendant made arrangements with a friend to borrow tools from a vehicle.

“He then, in fact, took the vehicle rather than the tools. The owner of the van happens to be a police officer.

“He was contacted while out of the country on holiday and made arrangements for the defendant to have a spare key to the vehicle.

“The following day he is told that the van has been in a collision. Up until that point he believed the van was parked safely on his driveway.”

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The officer said in a victim personal statement: “I am really hurt and disappointed that he has taken my van and left me without it as it is now in an unusable state.”

Ms Croft said the collision took place on The Broadway, Gateshead, at 11pm September 24.

She said a car owner heard the sound of his vehicle being hit and then saw the white van careering on into a telegraph pole.

“He ran over and said the driver appeared dazed. The driver got out of the van and staggered all over the road.

“For safety reasons he was told to get back to the van.

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“He told him ‘it’s the chief inspector’s van and I’ve come from around the corner’.”

Todd was arrested and refused to provide a sample of breath to officers.

Ms Croft said: “Mr Todd was clearly drunk and he stated throughout that he would not provide a sample of breath, blood or urine.”

She added: “This has been an incident which has put others at risk, because there has been a collision with a stationary vehicle as well as the collision with the road furniture.”

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Todd pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, failing to provide a specimen, driving without valid insurance and otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

David Forrester, defending, said: “This officer is also his employer. This defendant was working for this gentleman. He works as a plasterer and has children aged 14, 10 and five.

“He doesn’t drink to excess but he had separated from his partner on that day. He did drink and for some reason he got into the van and drove it.

“He had no idea what the consequences would be.”

Todd was disqualified from driving for a year and sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

He was told to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £85 costs and £115 surcharge.