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With a top speed of about 50km/h, a second-hand 50cc moped would not be the getaway vehicle of choice for most criminals.
But British cops pursuing James Phillips in a decidedly low-speed chase were determined not be beaten - and brought in a police helicopter.
That wasn’t all. Four patrol cars were also drafted in as the moped buzzed along at 25km/h.
And after a not-so nail biting chase through the streets of Bristol, the officers finally got their man.
During the daylight pursuit, Phillips, 22, whose driving licence had previously been cancelled, was seen slowing down for speed bumps, but also mounted pavements and swerved dangerously in front of cars. Crew in the helicopter gave a running commentary on his progress and at one point emphasised the low speed he was riding at, telling colleagues on the ground: “Speed is 15 – one – five – miles an hour.”
Phillips managed to evade two police cars on his £200 (R2700) Piaggio for nearly two kilometres before giving up and pulling over.
At one stage, a man tried to punch him off the bike but narrowly missed him. Phillips was arrested for dangerous driving, and driving while disqualified and without insurance.
He admitted the offences as his barrister said he had been stupid.
Bristol Crown Court heard Phillips, a roofer, ‘panicked’ when he saw police and attempted to flee.
Footage from the 290km/helicopter was played to the court.
Defending, Farah Rashid said: “He panicked and behaved in a really stupid way.
“He was going to get caught. There was no excessive speed. It was only a matter of time that police would arrest him and he stopped voluntarily after some distance. It was, perhaps, more stupid than dangerous under the circumstances.”
The court heard Phillips had a previous conviction for dangerous driving when he drove a car from a burglary, from which others hurled bottles at police.
He was given a nine-month jail term suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and undergo a thinking skills programme. He was also banned from driving for three years, ordered to take an extended driving test and pay a victim surcharge of £100 (R1350).
After the case one cop said: ‘You normally expect a bit of drama when the helicopter’s up and you hear there’s a chase on. But this was more like a guided tour. On that moped he was going nowhere fast.’
Asked why the helicopter was sent up, a police spokesman said: “Whenever a vehicle fails to stop for police, the helicopter is requested to manage the pursuit to reduce the risk to members of the public.
“The aircraft’s observer will give a full radio commentary so officers on the road can intercept the vehicle and bring the pursuit to a safe conclusion.”
He added: “Often the footage taken from the helicopter forms part of the evidence used to bring offenders to justice.” - Daily Mail
WATCH THE POLICE FOOTAGE