Dangerous driver almost caused head-on crash overtaking delivery van

A speeding driver carried out a series of dangerous overtaking manoeuvres on busy roads unaware an off-duty police officer was following him. At one stage Daniel Mitchell almost slammed straight into an oncoming vehicle as he overtook a food delivery van approaching the brow of a hill. Just weeks earlier Mitchell had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs but had made off from officers, vaulted a fence and ran across fields prompting police to bring in a tracker dog to find him.

A judge at Swansea Crown Court said drug-driving was becoming a scourge, and people needed to understand it was just as serious as drink-driving. READ MORE: Tesla-driving businessman jumps traffic lights queue at 80mph then tries to blame others for his dangerous driving Ieuan Rees, prosecuting, said on the morning of June 22 this year, police went to the Pelcomb service station near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire following calls from members of the public about a male who appeared to be unfit to drive.

He said when officers arrived they found Mitchell asleep at the wheel of a car. The defendant was woken up, and officers formed the opinion he was under the influence of something - an alcohol breath test was negative but a saliva swab test for cocaine and cannabis was positive. The court heard Mitchell was arrested but he suddenly turned and fled, jumping over a fence and running off across an adjoining field.

The officers called for back-up, and extra units were deployed to the scene including a tracker dog. Around an hour later the defendant was spotted on a nearby lane and was chased and caught by a PCSO. A blood test was subsequently done which showed the presence of cocaine and cannabis in the defendant's system at levels below the legal driving limit as well as 451mg of benzoylecgonine - a metabolite of cocaine - per litre of blood, the legal limit being 50mg.

Mitchell was charged with escaping lawful custody and the matter was committed to Swansea Crown Court where he was released on court bail. Mr Rees said the defendant came to the attention of police again on August 2 due to the manner of his driving. He said at around 4.30pm an off-duty police officer was driving southbound along the A40 towards Haverfordwest when a dark-coloured Mini overtook his car and sped off down the road.

As the officer continued through Letterston he monitored the Mini ahead of him and saw it carrying out a series of overtaking manoeuvres which forced oncoming vehicles to swerve and slow down to avoid collisions. The officer reported what was happening to colleagues. Read about a driver who has never passed test and who led police on 70mph chase before crashing into a car.

Mr Rees said the officer continued to follow Mitchell at a safe distance as the defendant went through the stretch of road known as the Treffgarne bends - narrowly avoiding another crash as he did so - before turning left and heading for Spittle. The court heard that 26-year-old Mitchell found himself behind a Tesco food delivery lorry but as they approached the brow of a hill he pulled out and overtook the truck at speed, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction as he did so. Mitchell was subsequently identified as the driver of the Mini, and arrested.

Daniel Anthony Mitchell, of Pen-y-Garn, St David's, Pembrokeshire, had previously pleaded guilty to escaping lawful custody and to dangerous driving when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has 10 previous convictions for 18 offences including driving with excess alcohol, burglary, and obstructing a police officer. In 2019 he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for robbery after he and his accomplice roughed-up and robbed a 13-year-old boy of his phone at a bus stop in Haverfordwest town centre.

Matt Murphy, for Mitchell, said the defendant appreciated the seriousness of the position he was in. He said his client and his partner were expecting a child in December, and he said his client now had a serious outlook on life which had previously been absent. The advocate said Mitchell was working as a driver on a landfill rubbish site, and had been open with his employers about his situation - he said if his client were to retain his liberty he had been told his job was would still be available to him.

Judge Geraint Walters said Mitchell had clearly been "high as a kite" on June 22 when found sleeping in his car at a petrol station, and said drug-driving was becoming a scourge. He said people needed to understand drug-driving was just as serious as drink-driving. The judge said after being charged and appearing in court - in fact appearing before him - Mitchell had then gone on to drive "aggressively and dangerously" on the roads of Pembrokeshire.

The judge said he could send the defendant straight to prison but the reality was the period he would serve behind bars would be measured in months and would achieve little - instead the judge said he was going to try a more "constructive" sentence. With discounts for his guilty pleas Mitchell was sentenced to six months in prison - comprising two months for escaping lawful custody and four months for dangerous driving to run consecutively - suspended for two years. He must also complete a rehabilitation course and a thinking skills programme, and he was banned from driving for three years and must pass an extended test before he gets his licence back.

The court heard the defendant was previously fined and disqualified by magistrates for the drug-driving matter linked to the escaping from lawful custody incident.

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