Car forced people in street to flee its path

Pedestrians had to dive into shop doorways or run across the road to escape being struck by a car being driven along the pavement of a busy Whitby town centre street.

The car also smashed into street furniture outside a pub, sending tables and chairs flying like skittles as it made its way along Pier Road at around 8.30pm on March 16 in an attempt to get away from a pursuing police vehicle.

Jeffrey O'Connell, who drove a car down a busy Whitby pavement

Jeffrey O'Connell, who drove a car down a busy Whitby pavement

Officers had been called to a disturbance in a pub and arrived to find the car driving the wrong way along Pier Road.

A police driver attempted to prevent it doing a three-point turn by placing his own vehicle behind it.

However, the car rammed the police vehicle before being driven off the right way along the road, but on the pavement.

The Audi car was later found abandoned, with the two occupants having decamped and gone to a nearby taxi office to get a ride home to the Middlesbrough area.

However, York Crown Court was told that the car was traced to the passenger’s girlfriend. The driver, Jeffrey O’Connell, 30, tracked down by his DNA after blood was found in the car.

Alan Mitcheson, prosecuting, who told how 15 pedestrians had had to get out of the way of the car, said that the passenger had been involved in a disturbance. The pair initially drove off in the right direction, but O’Connell turned the Audi around to return to the scene.

The court heard that over £2,000 worth of damage was caused to the furniture outside Harry’s Bar as the car sped along the pavement.

O’Connell, of Saltersgill Avenue, Middlesbrough, appeared before the court for sentencing, having previously admitted a charge of dangerous driving.

He also appeared on admitted related offences of failing to stop after an accident, driving without insurance and without a licence.

A father of three, O’Connell was said to have panicked, acting out of character for a normally hard-working man who is also undertaking study as part of an Open University course.

The court was told that custody would be a “crushing blow” to both O’Connell and his family.

But he was jailed for 12 months and banned from driving for 18 months.

He was ordered by the court to sit an extended driving test and pay a statutory surcharge of £100.