Drink-driver jailed for two years after ploughing into police cars at high speed

Published on:
17 Jul 2017, 8:11 a.m.
Last updated:
17 Jul 2017, 2:29 p.m.
Published by:
Melanie Adams
Category:
General news
Area:
Southampton
Reference:
44170123045

A drink-driver who ploughed into three police cars at high speed as he tried to evade officers, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, has been jailed.

Martin Ralfs
Convicted: Martin Ralfs

Martin Ralfs, 58, of Whitworth Crescent, Southampton, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving while alcohol level above limit.

He was also sentenced for three counts of breaching a restraining order, for which he had earlier pleaded guilty to.

Southampton Crown Court heard how Ralfs came to the attention of police as he was seen speeding along the M27 in the early hours of April 2 in his Honda Accord.

The prosecution said that he sped past a marked police car close to junction 5 on the westbound carriageway, at an estimated 90mph.

The officers followed the vehicle and caught up with it at junction 1, by which time it had slowed down to 50mph but was serving across the lanes.

A Roads Policing Unit was deployed to safely stop the car and as they approached the layby at Stoney Cross on the A31 the officer illuminated his rear emergency lights, got in front of Ralfs and indicated for him to follow him into the layby.

As this was done Ralfs moved into the second lane as if to overtake, so the officer straddled both lanes in a bid to stop him.

It was at this point, the court heard, that Ralfs rammed the police car, causing it to swerve, while Ralfs drove off at around 100mph.

The police car, which suffered minor damage, continued to follow the Honda, which went up to the roundabout at the junction with Woolsbridge Road in St Leonards and back down the eastbound carriageway, reaching speeds of up to 127mph.

Knowing that the car was heading back towards the M27, three vehicles from the Roads Policing Unit were ready to carry out a tactical containment in a bid to stop Ralfs safely.

However, Ralfs refused to slow down and crashed into the back of two of the police cars.

Op Toupe
The scene afterwards

One of the vehicles spun and crashed into the central reservation and the other one spun into the carriageway, both losing a rear wheel and suffering extensive damage that resulted in them having to be written off.

The Honda came to a stop on the hard shoulder and Ralfs, who suffered minor injuries, was arrested.

The court heard how he later failed a roadside breath test and further tests revealed he was over the drink-drive limit.

As a result of the collision that section of the motorway was closed for several hours to allow for forensic examination of the scene.

The three officers involved suffered whiplash injuries and bruising.

Ralfs was sentenced to 12 months in prison for dangerous driving and three months for drink-driving, which will run concurrent.

He was also given a total of 12 months in prison for breaching the restraining order. This will run consecutively with the dangerous driving sentence, meaning he was sentenced to a total of two years in prison.

He was also disqualified from driving for one year, which will start once he is released from prison.

Op Toupe
One of the damaged police vehicles

Sergeant Mark Furse said: “It was sheer luck that no one was seriously injured or killed as a result of Mr Ralfs’ reckless driving.

“Fortunately, our highly trained roads policing officers were able to deploy specialist tactics to stop his dangerous driving and take him off our roads before anyone was seriously hurt.

“However, his actions that night did take valuable operational response vehicles off our roads and resulted in a major route being closed for several hours.

“Our officers were simply doing their job and trying to make our roads safer for everyone, yet this man decided that he was going to risk their lives and the lives of other road users by refusing to stop and speeding off.

“His attempts to evade our officers were ultimately futile and I hope that this sentencing sends a clear message to anyone who thinks that drink-driving or speeding is worth the risk – it is not and the consequences can be fatal.”

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