‘I’m too old for this’ says grandad, 47, after 80mph car chase which nearly wiped out family – Liverpool Echo
A grandad-of-three who led police on an 80mph car chase which nearly wiped out a family declared “I’m getting too old for this.”
Steven Barton, 47, drove at high speed down the wrong side of the road, through red lights, and was forced to slam on to avoid hitting the family as they prepared to cross Speke Road, Speke.
Barton’s driving was so dangerous Merseyside Police were forced to abandon the pursuit in the “interests of public safety” and wait for another chance to lock up the career thief.
He was eventually spotted behind a Ford Focus in the car park of a David Lloyd gym in Kirkby on January 10, where officers caught him putting on a black glove.
The car was filled with stolen goods, taken after Barton had waited in car parks at gyms across the region to target vehicles which he knew the owners had left their belongings inside.
Barton, of Elloway Road in Speke , was jailed for two years and seven months at Liverpool Crown Court today after admitting five counts of theft, five counts of fraud, two counts of going equipped for theft, one of handling stolen goods, one of dangerous driving and one of driving while disqualified.
The sentencing judge, Recorder Matthew Corbett-Jones , told Barton: “As the family tried to cross the road officers noted that you braked so hard the ABS system on your car was activated.
“I can only say it’s a miracle that somebody was not seriously injured as a result of that appalling driving.”
He also asked the court to take into account three counts of handling stolen goods and one of fraud following thefts in the Wigan area.
Mike Stephenson, prosecuting, told the court police received reports Barton was driving around the Speke area in a Vauxhall Vectra, which had been fitted with stolen number plates, on the afternoon of December 2.
Mr Stephenson said: “He sped through a give way without stopping or applying any brakes, and reached speeds of 50mph in a 30mph zone.
“He went through a set of red traffic lights, although he did slow, before accelerating and narrowly missing other vehicles. He drove onto the wrong side of the carriageway and at that point the officers were required to break off the chase.”
Mr Stephenson said another attempt to chase him was abandoned after he hit 80mph and nearly hit the family.
The Vectra was found abandoned later that day and a search revealed a stash of stolen items from a theft spree in the days prior to the chase outside gyms in Hunts Cross , West Derby , Aintree and Widnes .
The court heard he swiped iPhones, laptops, handbags and debit cards which he then tried to use in shops, and had fitted false number plates to his vehicle to avoid detection.
After he was arrested in the second vehicle the following month, police found another stash of stolen items including a Macbook Pro and a Dell Laptop, and realised the number plate had been doctored with black tape.
Mr Stephenson said Barton had spent years in jail for similar offences, and had 56 previous convictions for dishonesty related offences alone.
Tom Watson, defending, said his client’s lifestyle was a “total nuisance” to society.
He said: “What he said to me in the cells this morning, and perhaps only time will tell, he said ‘I’m just getting too old for this.”
Mr Watson said Barton had “let down” his partner who is awaiting surgery for cancer, and told the court his client has battled cocaine and alcohol problems for years.
He said: “He is not very good at this. It is not sophisticated, and he is always caught.”
Judge Corbett-Jones said: “These offences will undoubtedly have caused massive inconvenience to ordinary people going about their daily lives.
“They were mean offences.”
Barton was also banned from driving for two years from the date of his release.
Community Inspector Paul Holden, from Merseyside Police, said: “Like many thieves, Barton was an opportunist who waited to see when victims left items in their car or looked for signs that a vehicle contained items worth stealing. He deliberately went to gym car parks with the intention of stealing from unsuspecting victims.
“Barton is behind bars where he belongs, and we can all breathe a little easier as a result.”