Dangerous Halifax drug driver caused £38,000 of damage and injured officers in 20-mile Calderdale police chase

Bradford Crown court
Bradford Crown court

Two West Yorkshire police officers were injured and damage totalling nearly £38,000 was caused to four vehicles and a stone wall after a 20-mile pursuit along roads in Halifax ended in a crash.

Uninsured Daniel Coulthard had taken his friend’s Vauxhall Astra van while he was asleep in the early hours of June 24 last year, but when a police patrol tried to carry out a routine stop the 27-year-old, who had been taking cocaine, drove off at speed along roads around Northowram, Shibden Valley, Shelf and Queensbury.

Recorder Andrew Haslam QC was shown dashcam footage from police cars involved in the 29-minute pursuit which involved various attempts to “box in” the van or use “stinger” devices to stop it.

Bradford Crown Court heard that the police helicopter had also been deployed during the pursuit.

At times Coulthard, who had previously received a caution for aggravated vehicle taking, approached speeds of 80mph and prosecutor Laura McBride said he had driven through red lights, mounted the kerb and driven on the wrong side of the road.

The incident finally came to an end on Ingham Lane at Bradshaw when the pursuing police cars were able to block the van in, but in the process one patrol car was pushed into a wooden electrical pole which fell on top of the vehicle.

Miss McBride told the court that the police car was written off and two others suffered damage totalling nearly £14,000.

The damaged wall cost nearly £3000 to repair and the Astra van taken by Coulthard also suffered damage worth about £2000.

She said the total damage and repair costs amounted to £37,718.23.

The court heard that one police officer suffered whiplash and bruising to both his arms while his colleague suffered bruising to his arm and pain to his upper body.

After his arrest at the scene Coulthard, of Upper Hall View, Northowram, was found in possession of some cocaine and a drug test showed he was over the limit for driving.

Coulthard admitted charges of dangerous driving, possession of cocaine, driving while over the prescribed limit for drugs and driving while uninsured.

Recorder Haslam jailed him for 15 months and banned him from driving for a total of two years and seven-and-a-half months.

Barrister Simeon Evans, for Coulthard, said his client had rightly been “hanging his head in shame” while the footage was being played in court and he was fully aware of the seriousness of the situation.

But Mr Evans said Coulthard was making efforts to rehabilitate himself and there had been no further offending in the subsequent 15 months since the incident.

He said Coulthard was making real efforts to change and faced losing his job if he was sent to prison immediately.

Mr Evans urged the judge to consider a suspended prison sentence with unpaid work and a curfew, but Recorder Haslam said as well as putting his own life at risk Coulthard had put the lives of other road users and the police officers at risk.

“You drove (the van) while you were under the influence of cocaine,” said the judge.

“Many police vehicles and a police helicopter were involved in a half-hour pursuit of you that morning and you persistently ignored the many attempts by officers to try to get you to stop driving in that way.

“In my judgement this is just about the worst case of dangerous driving I have seen involving as it did the factors I have already outlined and it is an offence so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is justified.

“People need to be deterred from driving on the streets of this country in the way you drove that morning.”

Coulthard will now have to pass a mandatory extended re-test at the end of his driving ban before he can lawfully drive on the roads again.