Driver jailed as passenger left in coma after A1(M) joyride near Letchworth
- Credit: Archant
A dangerous driver who put a passenger into a coma has been jailed following robbery and driving offences near Letchworth.
Neil Stimson, aged 44, from Robert Hunt Gardens in Sandy, was found guilty and sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Thursday, September 24, following an eight-day trial.
He was handed a seven and a half year sentence.
At around 6.20pm on Wednesday, April 22, a stolen Ford Fiesta was spotted by police travelling on the A505, heading towards Junction 9 of the A1(M) for Letchworth.
Officers began to pursue the vehicle, which then headed on to the wrong side of the motorway, travelling north on the southbound carriageway.
The pursuit was abandoned as a result.
The Fiesta then left the motorway at Junction 10 for Baldock services, where police re-engaged and attempted to tactically stop the vehicle.
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It failed to stop and once again began travelling against the flow of traffic, resulting in a head-on collision with a van on the roundabout near Baldock services.
Two occupants were found inside the Fiesta, Stimson in the driving seat and a 47-year-old woman in the passenger seat, who sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision. The van driver sustained minor injuries.
The passenger was taken to hospital, where she was placed in an induced coma, remaining in a critical condition for several weeks, and Stimson was arrested.
Earlier the same day, at around 1pm, Stimson had also attempted to steal a parcel delivery van in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.
The van driver, a woman in her 40s, had left the keys in the vehicle as she went to make a delivery. Stimson got into the van and drove it a short distance along the road before the woman managed to jump into the passenger seat.
Stimson then punched her and attempted to push her out of the van, before taking the keys and running off.
On Thursday, Stimson was jailed for three years and three months for robbery, four years and three months consecutively for causing serious injury through dangerous driving and 18 months concurrently for causing serious injury through disqualified driving.
He was also banned from driving for 10 years and nine months.
Jailing Stimson, the judge commented that he had refused to accept responsibility for his actions, while also commending the police officers involved for their courage and professionalism.
Sergeant Mark Dollard, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Stimson’s actions on the day were simply appalling.
“It’s a miracle that no one was killed by his dangerous behaviour. He showed no remorse throughout interview or the trial itself and I am pleased with the sentence handed down. Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire are safer places with Stimson now behind bars.”
As per standard procedure, the incident was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) at the time.