Homeless van thief rammed police blockade and injured officer who "feared for her life", court is told
A homeless thief stole a van then smashed through a police blockade trying to stop him, injuring an officer who "feared for her life".
Darren Richmond put his foot down and purposely rammed a police vehicle that had been parked across a road to stop him, Leeds Crown Court was told.
The 44-year-old stolen the Mercedes Sprinter from The Chase in Stanley on the evening of February 22, prosecutor Joseph Hudson said.
Officers in Beeston, Leeds, became suspicious when they saw the van being driven at around 11pm being followed by a moped.
When he realised the police were following him, he made a series of sharp turns. The police then called for back-up and asked for a vehicle to block him in.
Mr Hudson said: "The defendant came to the block but rather than stop, he rammed into the police vehicle at speed, causing injury to a police constable who was sat in the passenger seat.
"He went past the block and drove off."
Shortly afterwards he was seen running in the area wearing a high-vis vest which he had been wearing behind the wheel.
He was arrested and gave no comments during an interview.
The police officer was taken to hospital with whiplash, and needed a week off work.
She gave a statement saying she "feared for her life" when saw the van accelerating towards her and she could have suffered greater injury had she not partially moved from her own seat onto the driver's side at the moment of impact.
Richmond admitted a charge of dangerous driving, theft of a motor vehicle and driving without a licence and insurance.
The court was told that Richmond has 18 convictions for 32 offences dating back to 1995, including multiple thefts, and dangerous driving in 1998 in which he banned from the road and ordered to take an extended test. He has never passed that test.
Mitigating, Shila Whitehead said Richmond, who has no fixed address, had stolen the van for somewhere to sleep.
She said: "He has no family and was in a bad state at the time. He had nowhere to stay.
"He is deeply regretful for not stopping."
Judge Rodney Jameson QC gave him 20 months' jail, and banned him from driving for 34 months.