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David Seal jailed for dangerous driving after Gravesend pub crash

A terrified police officer feared he would lose a leg or be killed after he was dragged along a road for about 55 metres by a drugged up driver, a court heard.

Panicking because he had no driving licence or insurance and had taken cocaine, David Seal sped off with PC Matthew Hooper half in and half out of the car.

As they both grappled with the steering wheel, the VW Golf hit parked cars before crashing into a former pub in Gravesend.

The scene of the crash. Picture: Kent Police
The scene of the crash. Picture: Kent Police

“The officer got out and burst into tears because he thought he was going to die,” said a judge.

Jailing Seal, formerly of Peacock Street, Gravesend, for 15 months, he added: “The key, I believe, here is the cocaine. You knew taking cocaine and driving was a recipe for trouble.”

Maidstone Crown Court heard the 32-year-old father of three was three times the drug-drive limit allowed. He was banned from driving for two years.

PC Hooper and another officer were in a marked police van on July 24 last year when they spotted Seal, driving erratically just before midnight and told him to pull over.

PC Hooper opened the passenger door on Queen Street and while half in Seal drove off.

He accelerated and hit several parked cars before smashing into the former City of London pub.

The damaged car after being recovered
The damaged car after being recovered

The officer escaped with bruising to his legs and scratches to his arm. Seal, who had only owned the car for two days, was shouting when he got out of the car and a PAVA spray was used on him.

When interviewed, he said he “panicked and just took off”.

He added: “I don’t deal with things. I have mental health issues. I don’t deal with authority in the best of places.

“The man came over a bit aggressive. He just jumped in like f------ Batman and I tried to grab him halfway up the road at 30mph. That’s why I ploughed into the guest house.

“Listen, I didn’t mean to hurt your man, but I did.”

Seal, who has 12 previous convictions for 24 offences, including robbery, added that he panicked because he had seen in the press that bogus officers were stopping people.

David Seal. Picture: Kent Police
David Seal. Picture: Kent Police

He admitted dangerous driving, assault causing actual bodily harm and having no driving licence or insurance.

Prosecutor Gregory Wedge said PC Hooper made it plain in a victim statement it was a shocking incident for him as he thought he was going to die.

Emin Kandola, defending, said Seal, who was on disability living allowance, had previously been drinking up to 10 cans of cider a day and was using cannabis and up to £100 worth of cocaine a day.

“He accepts he should not have been driving in the first place,” said Miss Kandola.

“He was panicking. He has panicked from that day onwards. It was clearly unintentionally reckless.”

Passing sentence, Recorder Antonie Muller said of the victim: “He was just a man doing his job trying to keep the public safe from unsafe and illegal drivers like you.”

Police investigating following the crash
Police investigating following the crash

Recorder Muller said Seal would be banned for life until he took an extended test.

Telling Seal the maximum sentence for actual bodily harm was five years imprisonment, he added: “The harm you caused PC Hooper was mercifully, and luckily for you, lesser harm, but your culpability was high.

“There was premeditation in your driving. You did deliberately drive with a human being half in and half out of your car. The location was very public indeed.

“It must have been horrific for PC Hooper’s partner to watch this unfold and not be able to do anything about it. There has to be an element of deterrence in the sentence.”

Investigating officer Detective Constable Andrew Jobes said: "What was a typical police stop on a suspicious vehicle became much more serious when Seal reacted dangerously, driving away from the scene with little awareness for the safety of the officer who was part way inside his car.

"Fortunately no one was seriously hurt and Seal was detained immediately after crashing into the pub wall."

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