A POLICEMAN has told of his relief after being cleared of dangerous driving over his pursuit of a stolen van.
It took a 12-strong jury 75 minutes to find PC James Holden not guilty following a seven-day trial at Guildford Crown Court.
Speaking after the trial, which cost an estimated £14,000, Fratton Roads Policing Unit officer PC Holden, 35, said: ‘I’m very pleased justice has been done. I’m very relieved and I want to thank my legal team and everyone who has supported me. It’s been horrendous. It changes you as a person, definitely for the worse. The mental anguish has been terrible.’
PC Holden, of Titchfield, denied driving dangerously during his pursuit of a stolen Renault Kangoo minivan through Portsmouth last February.
The minivan went through red traffic lights, the wrong way round a roundabout and on the wrong side of a dual carriageway before smashing through level crossing barriers outside Cosham train station. PC Holden did not go through the barriers. Driver Louis Bibby, 19, abandoned the van and was arrested nearby.
Bibby, who has 145 previous convictions and was on bail at the time, was later jailed for four years after admitting a string of offences including dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance, aggravated vehicle taking causing damage and two counts of burglary with intent to steal.
Senior colleagues at Hampshire Constabulary reviewed the pursuit and referred it to the Crown Prosecution Service, which charged PC Holden.
PC Holden’s partner Georgina Leavold, a Hampshire police sergeant, said: ‘Words can’t describe how stressful it was for our families, for ourselves. It’s the worst year of my life.
She added: ‘We are very relieved and really, really do appreciate the support we have had.’
John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, said: ‘PC Holden has had 12 months of hell.
‘This is not only the right result for PC Holden, but the right result for policing.’
Hampshire Constabulary said in a statement: ‘Following the outcome of this case we will identify any organisational learning that comes out of it.’