Denbighshire helicopter search after drink driver fled from police

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Denbighshire Free)

A police helicopter had been called out and a dog handler was drafted in after a drink driver fled from police and ran off into the darkness in the North Wales countryside.

The air support unit directed officers on the ground to the wooded area where the defendant Philip McGinn was hiding, Mold Crown Court was told on Monday.

Two fences had to be cut to free him and he had to be carried from the scene with the aid of a gamekeeper’s 4x4 vehicle, after he said he had injured his leg.

The use of the helicopter alone had cost £1,300, the court heard.

Defendant Philip McGinn, 42, of Coppull Road, Lydiate, Liverpool, previously pleaded guilty to escaping from the police car at the A5 at Llidiart y Park near Corwen, on August 16 last year.

He had admitted drink driving and failing to provide a roadside breathtest when he appeared before local magistrates.

He was banned from driving for 18 months and placed on a 12 month community order, under which he must carry out 120 hours unpaid work in the community.

Judge Niclas Parry, who told him he had been “utterly foolish”, ordered him to pay £400 towards the cost of calling out the helicopter, and £200 prosecution costs.

“You caused great inconvenience to public services,” he said, and caused great cost to the public purse.

Police had far better things to do that chasing someone who had “an aberration” and who fled after being arrested for drink driving.

“You were not going to go far with your dodgy knee,” he said.

It had been “a momentary act of madness” which led to a short lived incident.

He had two previous convictions for drink driving but they were outside the ten year period where a three year ban would be imposed.

The defendant had not been in trouble for 15 years, said Judge Parry.

Prosecutor Emmalyne Downing said that a police officer that night followed the defendant’s car between Llangollen and Corwen.

At one stage it stopped at the brown of a hill, then moved on slowly to a gateway, where the officer stopped and asked if he was ok?

His speech was said to be slurred, a passenger told him not to provide a breath sample and he refused do so.

The officer told him he was under arrest and took his ignition keys and the defendant was invited to sit in the police car.

But the defendant squared up to him, grabbed the officer’s arm and said he wanted his keys back.

He appeared to calm down and sat in the rear of the police car but then said “he’s not arresting me”, kicked the door open and fled.

The defendant got over a gate and ran through a field despite repeatedly being told to stop.

He got stuck in a fence at one stage and the officer tried to grab him but was pushed back.

The officer also tried to spray him but it was dark and he did not know if he had got him.

McGinn ran off and a dog handler and a police helicopter were called out.

He was located in a small woodland, two fences had to be cut to see him and a gamekeeper’s vehicle had to be used to carry him out because of his injured leg.

Prosecutor Emmalyne Downing said the incident lasted more than an hour, and the use of the helicopter alone cost £1,299.  He was taken to hospital for a check up.

At 7.59 a.m. the defendant blew a reading of 26 microgrammes – below the limit of 35 – and at that stage it was said he tried to give the officer a high five!

But it was explained to him that a back calculation would take place and it was estimated at the time he drove he would have had a reading of between 56 and 90 – the most likely level being 81 microgrammes.

Interviewed, he said that he had been for a meal to Llangollen with his wife and had two lagers.

He alleged that he was not asked to take a breathtest, accepted that he tried to get the keys back and had run away, but he denied that he had been inside the police car.

See full story in the Free Press

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