Drug driver smashes into parked car before fleeing in frenzied Torquay pursuit

A dangerous driver took a cocktail of drugs before taking police on a high speed chase around Torquay. Charles Conaghan, 34, put his foot down when police tried to speak to him outside Carter’s store in Warbro Road.

He drove a VW Golf through residential streets at speeds of up to 60mph before hitting a parked car in Babbacombe and running from the scene. Police arrested him and he admitted taking methadone, heroin, crack cocaine and other drugs.

Conaghan faced jail for dangerous driving but was spared immediate prison by the judge who said the cycle of offending would not be broken until he got control of his drug addiction. The defendant, of Lichfield Avenue, Torquay, was given a suspended sentence and a drug rehabilitation requirement which will be subject to reviews by the court.

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Exeter Crown Court was told the offence happened at about 4pm on October 27. Two police officers on vehicle patrol in St Marychurch Road had suspicions the driver of the Golf had no insurance. They followed him to Warbro Road and approached the car but Conaghan saw them and drove off.

At the junction with Reddenhill Road he drove at speed through a stop sign and on the wrong side of the road. The pursuit headed down Quinta Road, Windsor Road, Higher Warberry Road, Babbacombe Road, and Anstey’s Cove Road.

Prosecutor Miss Francesca Whebell said Conaghan drove at high speed in 30mph residential zones, overtook vehicles, ignored give way markings, narrowly missed parked cars and weaved between vehicles that were forced to swerve out of his path.

The chase only ended when the Golf hit a parked vehicle in St Albans Road close to the entrance to a children’s play park and two children who were on the pavement nearby.

The defendant pleaded guilty is dangerous driving; driving whilst being under the influence of drugs; using a car without insurance and a license and possession of a small amount of heroin that was found in the car.

Conaghan has a long criminal record that includes offences of drug possession, robbery, theft, criminal damage and assault. He was on bail at the time of his latest offences for being in charge of a vehicle after taking drugs.

The defendant was jailed for nine months, suspended for 12 months.

Judge David Evans described Conaghan as a 34-year-old who acted more like a juvenile. “The pursuit only came to a halt when you collided with a car near the entrance to a children’s play park and you were cornered in a dead end.

“You then had the temerity to complain about chest pains and were taken to hospital and a £ 20 wrap of heroin was found in the car.” He said he was not convinced by Conaghan’s excuse that he panicked because he thought he was being chased by drug dealers.

“Clearly you will continue to pose a risk to the public until you sort out your drug problems. You have a significant history of non-compliance with court orders but have been assessed as suitable for a drug rehabilitation requirement.”

He said Conaghan must return to court for regular reviews about his progress on the DRR. The defendant was also disqualified from driving for 18 months and must take an extended test before getting a license.

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