Published: 00:01, 08 January 2019
| Updated: 15:44, 08 January 2019
A teenage father who hurtled around the streets of Sittingbourne in a car and reversed into a police vehicle, injuring an officer, has walked free.
A judge imposed an eight-month suspended sentence on provisional licence holder John Sherlock after taking into account he had a young child and his father was seriously ill.
Judge Martin Huseyin told the 18-year-old caretaker, of St Laurence Close, Bapchild: “By the skin of your teeth, I am prepared to suspend the sentence because of the background circumstances and your (guilty) plea.”
The judge showed leniency despite the Chief Constable of Kent Alan Pughsley asking him to take into account that such offences not only had a serious effect on officers, but caused problems when police vehicles were damaged.
“It is another precious resource not available to the police while they are being repaired,” he said in a statement.
Sherlock, who had drunk vodka and taken cocaine, admitted dangerous driving, assault on two PCs, criminal damage and having no licence or insurance.
He was ordered to do 180 hours unpaid work and was banned from driving for18 months. A tagged curfew was imposed for eight weeks.
Maidstone Crown Court heard PCs Nigel Moffet and Ian Whitmill saw the teenager speeding along the A2 in a VW Golf in the early hours of June 10 last year.
Sherlock stopped the car at an Esso petrol station in the town.
When the officers arrived, he was standing by the car with a passenger.
Prosecutor David Smith said the two men jumped back into the car and sped off without lights along London Road towards the town centre.
Sherlock sped down the High Street over speed bumps, throwing out sparks.
“The car suddenly screeched to a halt and the officers thought they were going to flee,” said Mr Smith.
“But it reversed into the police car. The driver took a tactical decision to try to push the car off the road.”
But Sherlock drove off and shot through a red light into East Street in the wrong direction. It went through other red lights and headed for Bapchild, where Sherlock lived.
There, the car was abandoned and the teenager and his passenger made off over gardens.
A police helicopter was used in an attempt to find them.
Sherlock’s DNA was found in the car and he was also identified from his Facebook page. He was not arrested until September after he was found hiding under a mattress in his bedroom.
Mr Smith said PC Whitmill needed strong painkillers for a neck injury and was referred for physiotherapy.
He suffered a muscle spasm in his neck and back problems. He was taken off active duty.
Sherlock admitted to officers he had been under the influence of vodka and cocaine while driving.
“The prosecution say this was a serious case of dangerous driving,” added Mr Smith.
“He used the car as a weapon.”
Stacey-lee Holland, defending, said the teenager’s father had been diagnosed with bowel cancer and his weight had dropped to eight stone.
“He lost his mother at the age of 14 and will be looking after his father,” said Miss Holland. “He has an eight-month-old daughter. His sister has ADHD and he looks after his nephew.
“He doesn’t seek to minimise his actions. He said it was a stupid mistake which he regrets every day. He presents as an immature young man.
“He accepts he really must turn his life around. A custodial sentence would not address his underlying issues which led to this offending.”
Judge Huseyin said his starting point for sentence was 12 months youth custody.
"The prosecution say this was a serious case of dangerous driving... he used the car as a weapon" - prosecutor David Smith
He admitted: “I find this case slightly difficult because it is clear there are a number of factors which have to be taken into account.
"It is a particularly serious case of injury caused to a police officer.
“Your father is very seriously ill. It might prove fatal.
"The consequences of an immediate sentence is you may well be absent during your father’s last period alive, or during a life-threatening illness.”
The judge said a letter Sherlock had written to the court fell into the category of genuine remorse and insight into his offending.
“I can just about say in your case, with some hesitation, I can suspend the sentence,” he continued.
“You have been immature in your attitude and impulsive.
“A police officer doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. You have got your whole life ahead of you.
"You have an eight-month-old child and a father who desperately needs you.
“You are about to grow up. You should have done it before. I am going to give you the opportunity to grow up and not do it again.”