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'I thought I was going to die' - car thief drove at speed towards police officer

PUBLISHED: 11:02 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:33 25 October 2019

Bradley Atkins drove at a police officer who stopped him in a stolen Audi at the Spar in Watton. Picture: Google

Bradley Atkins drove at a police officer who stopped him in a stolen Audi at the Spar in Watton. Picture: Google

Archant

A car thief who stole an Audi to buy cigarettes drove at a police officer lying on the ground after he had thrown her from the car.

On June 18 Bradley Atkins was drinking in the Flying Fish in Watton along with a number of others.

He'd had three pints of Fosters deep when the owner of an Audi went for a cigarette, leaving his keys on the table.

Atkins needed cigarettes but rather than take the 200ft walk to the Spar, he took the keys to the Audi and drove there.

Norwich Crown Court heard he had bought the cigarettes and got back into the Audi when two police officers turned up in a marked car. They told Atkins his licence plate was dirty and he gave it a "cursory wipe", the court heard.

Checks also revealed the car had no insurance and Atkins gave the name of the car's owner when asked to identify himself.

"He lied, and having done that he started the car," said prosecutor Andrew Jackson.

"Both officers tried to grab the keys from the ignition, with their hands inside the car."

At that point, Atkins put the car in reverse and "floored it", throwing one officer from the car.

"The other officer still had her hands through the window while the car continued to accelerate backwards, turning sharply to the left. She was thrown away from the car and landed on the ground.

"At that point the other officer ran towards the car with his baton raised.

"The defendant put the car in forward gear and accelerated straight towards the prone constable on the ground. The other officer reached the car and began to hit the window repeatedly to make him stop."

The female officer said she tried to get out of the way of the oncoming car but "couldn't move".

"I closed my eyes and hoped for the best," she said. "I thought I was going to die. I felt it was the last day of my life."

Mr Jackson said Atkins stopped the car before hitting the officer, but had driven over the other constable's foot.

he ran from the scene but was caught near his home a short time later.

"He said he had given the wrong name because he thought he would get away with driving the car," said Mr Jackson.

Atkins admitted aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving.

He denied two assaults on police officers, which were left to lie on file.

Gavin Cowe, for Atkins, said his actions that day had been "inexplicably foolish".

"Making a foolish, impulsive decision made matters immeasurably worse," he said. "Coming clean would have been an infinitely better decision than the one he took."

Sentencing Atkins on Thursday, Judge Andrew Shaw said he would have "no complaints" if he went straight to prison.

"Foolish though this conduct was - utterly thoughtless and selfish - to put someone aged 23 in prison who has never been in trouble before for a short time is not the best way forward," he said.

"There is more than one way to skin a cat."

Atkins, of Hunters Oak, Watton, was given 14 months in prison suspended for two years and a six month curfew between 8pm and 5.30am.

He must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 in compensation to each of the officers.

He was also banned from driving for two years.

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