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Police chase man spared jail sentence thanks to parents

By This is Devon  |  Posted: January 14, 2011

A TROUBLED Torquay man, who was clocked doing 75mph in 30mph zone during a high-speed police chase through Starcross and Dawlish, has been spared jail after his estranged parents agreed to give him a second chance.

John Tree, 20, of Shiphay Lane, committed a string of motoring offences, one of which included fleeing police while he had two 14-year-old passengers in his car.

He was given an eight-month suspended jail sentence after his estranged parents, who had reached the end of their tether in trying to deal with his drug problems, accepted they would have him back in the family home.

Sentencing Tree, Recorder Sarah Munro QC imposed a string of conditions, telling him: "Eight months inside would be a hell of a lot easier than what I am proposing for you today."

Tree appeared at Exeter Crown Court for sentencing after previously being convicted at South Devon magistrates in December of dangerous driving, driving with no insurance and failing to stop.

The charges related to an incident in the early hours of last October 15 when Tree was spotted by police driving along the A380 at Telegraph Hill in a Fiat Punto. Police technology registered that the vehicle did not have insurance, but when they attempted to stop it, the vehicle sped off.

Police chased the vehicle through Starcross on the A379, where it was clocked doing 60mph in a 30mph zone, and up to 75mph as it entered Dawlish's Strand.

The pursuit ended in Barton Terrace when Tree overshot a junction and narrowly missed a wall.

He was arrested and told officers he 'didn't want to stop' when they attempted to halt his journey.

Tree has been in custody since the magistrates' court convicted him.

Paul Dentith, mitigating, told the court Tree's troubles had stemmed from his cannabis and alcohol use. It led his parents, who were present in court for the proceedings, into asking him to leave the family home after they could not cope with his behaviour. He also lost his job which compounded problems.

Mr Dentith said his client had only been served with a caution for alleged shoplifting in the past.

He said: "This was a small window of offending for a person who has been remarkably trouble-free. He says he will never be back before the court again."

A separate matter of taking a vehicle without consent was also dealt with which related to a white van Tree was using as living accommodation while homeless.

Ms Munro told Tree: "You and your passengers were lucky to have escaped unharmed, as were members of the public. You thoroughly deserve a prison sentence. But it seems to me, having spent 28 days in prison, the best place is for you to come out, put the drink and drugs behind you and lead a law-abiding life."

The court heard Tree's parents were willing to have him return home if he did his best to tackle his problems.

Ms Munro said: "There could be a happy ending to a very sorry story."

She imposed an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a six-month curfew ordering him to stay at his parent's house in Shiphay between the hours of 10pm and 7am, disqualified him from driving for 12 months, endorsed his licence and imposed a supervision requirement ordering him to attend a drug and thinking skills course.

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