‘Dangerous driving’ police officer was chasing prolific offender through Portsmouth

ON TRIAL PC James Holden
ON TRIAL PC James Holden

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THE burglar pursued by a policeman accused of dangerous driving is a prolific offender, a court heard.

A 12-strong jury at Guildford Crown Court was told the crook pursued by PC James Holden while driving a stolen Renault Kangoo van in Portsmouth has 145 previous convictions.

Prosecution witness Detective Sergeant Paula James confirmed he was banned from driving when PC Holden spotted the 19-year-old driving the vehicle at McDonalds at The Pompey Centre in Fratton at about 8pm on February 6 last year.

The minivan had been stolen during a house burglary in the Petersfield area earlier that day.

Asked by Mark Aldred, defending, to confirm whether the driver was banned from getting behind the wheel at the time, Det Sgt James replied: ‘Yes’.

Qualified advanced driver PC Holden, who works at Fratton Roads Policing Unit, was charged with dangerous driving following his pursuit of the minivan through Portsmouth.

Holden, 35, denies the charge.

In a transcript of a police interview with Holden read out in court, he stated: ‘I did it with the best of intentions, I hadn’t planned to put anyone at risk, I don’t think I did.’

Holden pursued the Renault Kangoo in a high-powered force BMW through Rodney Road, Goldsmith Avenue, London Road, the A3, Northern Road and Cosham High Street.

The minivan drove on the wrong side of the road and went through a string of red traffic lights before driving the wrong way round a roundabout towards Cosham High Street.

It then smashed through level crossing barriers outside Cosham train station.

PC Holden stopped the vehicle he was driving and did not go through the barriers.

The minivan driver, who was on bail at the time, fled the scene but was caught by other officers and arrested.

A woman who was travelling in the van was also held.