Darlington driver who rammed police during A19 pursuit suffered from bipolar disorder (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Darlington driver who rammed police during A19 pursuit suffered from bipolar disorder
A DRIVER who rammed two patrol cars during an 85mph chase on a dual-carriageway said after his arrest: "I wasn't happy with the police that day."
Justin Swaby almost shoved one vehicle into the central reservation before his own car flipped over and rolled down the road, a court heard yesterday.
Swaby - who suffers from bipolar affective disorder - refused to stop when an officer began to follow him in Billingham, near Stockton, last May.
The 32-year-old drove safely and within the limit until he reached the A19 where he took off southbound, weaving from one lane to another.
His Citroen Xsara reached speeds of 85mph until another patrol car joined the chase, and the officers tried to slow him down by boxing him in.
Teesside Crown Court was told that Swaby shunted one car to create a gap, "swerved violently" to ram the other vehicle into the central reservation.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told Judge George Moorhouse that he lost control of his car, swerved to the nearside, mounted a grass verge and overturned.
Swaby said after his arrest that he had wanted to kill himself, and described his recollection of the high-speed pursuit as like "a cartoon flick page".
He said: "I had an incident when a police officer almost broke my hand in St Cuthbert's graveyard in Darlington, so I was none to happy with the police.
"I wanted to go home. You don't have to stop for a police officer if you don't feel safe. I was legally entitled to go to my home to answer questions there.
"I was not thinking too clearly. I was under a lot of stress. I could not have been under much more stress, short of someone putting a gun to my head."
Carl Swift, mitigating, said: "Mr Swaby did not go out with the intention of getting into a high-speed chase and endangering the lives of police officers."
A psychiatrist said in a report: "At the time of the offences, Mr Swaby's bipolar affective disorder was in relapse and he was displaying manic symptoms.
"It is my view if Mr Swaby's mental illness had not been in relapse, the offences would not have occurred. They were directly linked to relapse."
Swaby, of Bedford Street, Darlington, admitted dangerous driving and two charges of criminal damage being reckless whether life was endangered.
Judge Moorhouse imposed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with supervision, and banned him from the roads for two years.
He told Swaby: "The damage to the police vehicles was relatively minor, and fortunately the officers only suffered minor injuries."