‘You can keep your car’ judge tells petrolhead

Crime story
Crime story

A CAR nut who acted like a “total idiot,” driving at three times the speed limit during a police chase in Wigan,has been told he can keep the £10,000 car he crashed at the end of it.

Petrolhead Matthew William Hamlett, 22, of had his prized motor – a Nissan Silvia – seized by the court when he was sentenced on November 17 last year.

But this week top judges at London’s Criminal Court of Appeal let him have the cherished car back.

It was a “bad case” of dangerous driving, Mr Justice Spencer told the court.

Just after midnight on May 20 last year, Hamlett was driving along Warrington Road, Marus Bridge, towards junction 25 of the M6. He was clocked doing 70mph on the 30mph road by a police patrol car which gave chase.

Hamlett, of Preston Road, Coppull, drove through three sets of red lights and reached 90mph.

When he reached the roundabout, leading to the motorway junction, he crashed the Nissan into trees at the side of the road.

Mr Justice Spencer said Hamlett and his passenger were “fortunate not to be seriously injured”.

When he was interviewed the boy racer said: “I just panicked, I am a total idiot.”

Hamlett pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Liverpool Crown Court.

The apprentice engineer was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 costs.

He was also banned from driving for two years and will face an extended re-test before getting his licence back.

The judge also made an order depriving him of the Nissan Silvia.

Anthony Parkinson, for Hamlett, this week appealed against the car’s being taken away from his client.

He said it was an “isolated incident” during “a moment of panic” by the first-time offender.

Hamlett got an £8,000 loan from his dad to buy the car and he now intended to sell the vehicle and pay back the money, the court heard.

The sentencing judge said it was an “appalling piece of driving over a distance of two miles.”

But Mr Justice Spencer said it was out of character for Hamlett, who had no previous convictions and was described as “responsible, sensible and hard-
working.

“The suspended sentence of imprisonment, coupled with the unpaid work of 240 hours, the fine of £500 and mandatory disqualification of two years, was in our view sufficient punishment,” said the judge.

“Disqualification for a man with such a passion for motor cars would have hit hard and rightly so.”

Mr Justice Spencer, sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, said taking Hamlett’s car away was “manifestly excessive” and quashed the deprivation order.