Hampshire policeman ‘drove dangerously’ as he chased stolen van through Portsmouth

ON TRIAL PC James Holden
ON TRIAL PC James Holden
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A POLICE officer is on trial for dangerous driving over his pursuit of a stolen vehicle.

Hampshire Constabulary PC James Holden is alleged to have driven a high powered force BMW dangerously on seven roads in Portsmouth while pursuing the Renault Kangoo minivan.

Holden, 35, who is based at Fratton Roads Policing Unit, denies the charge.

Prosecutor Robin Sellers, opening the case at Guildford Crown Court, said: ‘The crown say that Mr Holden commenced his pursuit and conducted his pursuit in a way that was dangerous.’

He added: ‘From the outset he was of course chasing a stolen vehicle but the crown say in terms of what he did and how he did it he committed the offence of driving dangerously himself.

‘Of course it is a matter of clear logic that the person he was pursuing was also driving dangerously.’

A 12-strong jury heard the Renault Kangoo minivan was stolen during a house burglary in the Petersfield area on February 6 last year.

At about 8pm that night Holden spotted the stolen vehicle in the drive-through queue at a McDonalds Restaurant at The Pompey Centre in Fratton.

It had earlier been flagged up on an automatic number plate recognition system in Portsmouth.

Holden, who is a qualified advanced driver, pursued the vehicle through Rodney Road, Goldsmith Avenue, Fratton Road, London Road, the A3, Northern Road and Cosham High Street.

Mr Sellers said: ‘He should have employed another strategy altogether to avoid embarking on a pursuit at all.

‘The crown contend simply that this Renault Kangoo vehicle could have been blocked in when it was at the fast food restaurant by blocking the exit lane or blocking the exit to the restaurant.

‘Blocking that fast food lane or blocking the exit to the car park itself would have achieved apprehension of the offender without any further risk associated to carrying out a pursuit through the middle of Portsmouth.’

About three quarters of the way through the pursuit the minivan driver crossed onto the wrong side of the dual carriageway towards oncoming traffic. He then drove the wrong way round a roundabout towards Cosham High Street and through the level crossing outside Cosham train station.

Barriers at the crossing came down and PC Holden stopped.

The driver of the stolen vehicle went through them but was caught by other officers on foot who were in the area.

Mr Sellers added: ‘It is abundantly clear that this pursuit had got to the point that clearly demonstrates that PC Holden was not managing risk, he was making it personal, he was chasing that rogue offender beyond that which he was personally minded to do.’