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BURGLARS fleeing in a stolen van rammed police vehicles THREE times and injured a police woman during five-minutes of chase mayhem near Pocklington.

Jobless James Lowther, 29, wrote off a £15,000 police dog van and caused £2,000 worth of damage to a Humberside Police car on the A1079.

He was one of four thieves who had stolen £6,000 worth of tools from Right Cars in Beverley. They were foiled in an attempt to steal £100,000 worth of stock on three palates just delivered to Halfords store at St Andrew’s Quay, Hull.

In a statement to Hull Crown Court, a police officer said: “This was the worst piece of driving I have seen in my experience.”

Lowther appeared at court for sentence on 2 November after pleading guilty to offences of burglary, attempted burglary, dangerous driving, and driving with no insurance.

When arrested he told police he wanted to get away. He had been out of prison for a month.

The chase began at Pocklington Industrial Estate around 2pm on 16 May. Humberside officers in a Proton car spotted the stolen white transit van, following reports of the break-in.

Crown barrister Jeremy Evans said they attempted to pull it over putting on their flashing lights. The stolen Transit driven by Lowther, stopped, then reversed into their car smashing its bonnet before speeding off.

A police dog van gave chase west on the A1079 as the burglars threw out the contents of tool boxes into their path across the road in a shower of metal. The transit stopped again reversing on the A1079 into the dog van causing it to skew into on-coming traffic after being crunched.

The transit then crossed on to the wrong side of the road towards York heading into the path of an oncoming HGV causing it to brake to avoid catastrophe.

An all units alert had been issued and the police helicopter called. The van sped off again west. The police Proton converged on the van before it turned right into The Green at Barmby Moor. The van stopped, reversed again in to the Proton ramming it 20ft backwards up the road with the police officers inside powerless. The impact injured PCSO Rachel Mathews as she attempted to get out and try to stop the burglars.

The transit then drove 100m across a green play area before juddering to a halt in front of a tree on Beck Road.

The burglars, dressed in hi-viz jackets, then started throwing them on the floor as Lowther ran in to a bungalow on Beckside while its shocked owner was sat watching TV. Lowther picked up keys pretending he was at home before he was then arrested and taken outside.

Crown barrister Jeremy Evans said he could not explain why the other three men were not prosecuted as they were arrested at the scene.

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The court heard Lowther of Dulverton Green, Leeds, had burglary convictions and a record of aggravated vehicle taking. A month before, he had been granted early release from a four-and-a-half year sentence for wounding with intent where he drove a vehicle at a witness breaking a wrist following a burglary.

Defending barrister Kenneth Green said Lowther had been tempted by money and fully accepted he had driven the van from West Yorkshire to East Yorkshire looking to see what he could steal.

“We have heard it was quiet an appalling peace of driving,” said Mr Green. “He is fortunate that no serious injuries were caused to police officers. That was more by luck on his part. He knows he will not see his children grow up.”

Jailing Lowther for three-and-a-half years, Judge Jeremy Baker, QC said: “I can well understand why the police officer described this as the worst driving he had ever seen. On a main road you deliberately reversed and smashed in to a police dog van. It has subsequently been written off. Clearly these matters are aggravated by your previous convictions. Only a custodial sentence can be justified.”