A man who ‘wouldn’t say boo to a goose’ led the police on a dangerous high-speed car chase through the centre of Coventry after playing the computer game Grand Theft Auto.
William Whitmore was finally caught after turning into a dead-end street, and at Warwick Crown Court he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and having no full licence or insurance.
Whitmore (28) of Thomas Lane Street, Radford, Coventry, was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, with a rehabilitation activity, banned from driving for a year and ordered to pay £600 costs.
Prosecutor Rupert Jones said that in July 2016 a police officer on patrol in the Hillfields area of Coventry at two in the morning saw a Peugeot car make a poor turn into Raglan Street.
One of the car’s tail lights was not working, and its brake lights remained on, so the officer decided to stop it.
The Peugeot, driven by Whitmore, then made a turn into Alma Street, heading back the way it had come, so the officer accelerated to catch up with it.
But Whitmore accelerated hard to get away, reaching 55mph in Gosford Street, which Mr Jones pointed out was an area with a number of pubs, and where there were a number of taxis and people around at the time.
After going round parked taxis at high speed, Whitmore turned into Whitefriars Street, forcing people who were crossing the road to jump out of the way.
But when he then turned into the dead-end of Whitefriars Lane, he pulled up and tried to make off on foot, but was caught and arrested.
When he was interviewed, Whitmore said he had earlier been watching football and had then Played Grand Theft Auto, which he said had ‘hypnotised’ him.
He claimed that when the officer had tried to stop him he could not see anywhere to pull over, but added that he did not think he had been speeding.
Andrew Wallace, defending, said: “The defendant is somebody who is an unusual person to be in this position. He has never been in trouble before.
“Ordinarily he wouldn’t say boo to a goose. He works, and he lives with his mother, and is normally a shy and nervous individual.
“He is someone who can easily panic. He is easily stunned, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. He is someone who would be very vulnerable in a custodial setting.”
Mr Wallace added that in addition to his job, Whitmore had ‘a small side-line in graphic design,’ and has gained a place to study graphic design at Birmingham City University.
Sentencing Whitmore, Recorder Jacqueline Carey told him: “Back in 2016, at about two in the morning, you embarked on a mile-long drive which was dangerous, doing 50-55 in a 30 zone.
“When you turned one corner, members of the public had to jump out of the way.
“I have had to decide whether to send you to prison today or not. Given that this offence is now 20 months old, and that you are 28 with no previous convictions, I have come to the conclusion that I can suspend the sentence.”