A Defender thief who rammed a police vehicle off the road in a high-speed chase has been jailed. Lee Littlehales drove a stolen Land Rover Defender across East Lancashire before ‘using it as a weapon’ on PC Steve O’Boyle.
Lee Littlehales and others saw farmer John Palmer’s Land Rover parked in a lay-by near Wheatley Farm, on the A59 in Gisburn, on August 24 last year. Preston Crown Court heard that the keys were still in the ignition and Littlehales was ordered to take the car to repay £100 of a £500 drug debt. Bob Sastry, prosecuting, said 68-year-old Mr Palmer had been visiting a farming friend and immediately reported it stolen to police at 6.50pm.
As officers searched for the car, Littlehales made his way through Barrowford, Padiham, Altham, Accrington and towards the Rising Bridge roundabout. PC Steve O’Boyle, in a marked police Vauxhall Vectra, spotted him on the A56 close to Winfields, Haslingden, and gave chase. Littlehales sped through temporary red traffic lights at 70mph in a 30mph zone, screeched to a halt, span the Land Rover around and drove towards PC O’Boyle, who managed to avoid him. PC O’Boyle reversed up Hazel Street to decide whether to continue the high speed pursuit but Littlehales careered round the corner in reverse, spun 180 degrees, hit a lamppost and accelerated towards the police car and ‘deliberately’ rammed it off the road writing it off in the process.
PC Steve O’Boyle said, 'I had about a second’s notice. I knew what he was going to do so I gripped the steering wheel, closed my eyes and waited for the impact. No level of training can prepare you for that experience.'
Despite suffering extensive whiplash to the neck, lower back and leg, PC O’Boyle kicked his way out of the crushed police car and gave chase. Security guard Vinny McCabe heard PC O’Boyle’s shouts of ‘Stop, Police,’ and tackled Littlehales to the ground. The police officer was off work for a month and ‘extremely fortunate’ not to suffer serious injuries as his police car was crushed.
Heroin addict Littlehales, of Albert Royds Street, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, and aggravated vehicle taking. He was gaoled for three years and banned from the road for three years on his release. Daniel Gaskell, defending, said his client did not intend to deliberately injure PC O’Boyle.