Video thumbnail, VIDEO: Disqualified driver driving WRONG way round roundabout in police chase
Video Loading

A disqualified driver crashed a stolen tipper truck head on into a car after driving the wrong way round a roundabout during a police chase.

Paul Birtwell, from Accrington, was spotted by police in the truck on the M61 before leading them on a four-minute chase at speeds of up to 70mph through residential streets.

The 24-year-old then went the wrong way round a roundabout at junction four of the M61 and crashed head-on into an oncoming Vauxhall Corsa.

Burnley Crown Court heard the father-of-one and a passenger then fled the truck and unsuccessfully tried to hide in a nearby field.

Birtwell, 24, of Ashley Court, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving and using a vehicle without a licence and insurance.

He also admitted a separate offence of threatening a man with an offensive weapon and dangerous driving and was jailed for a total of two years and disqualified from driving for two years.

Paul Birtwell, 24, from Accrington

A youth from Hyndburn, who was a passenger in the car, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and was given a two-year youth rehabilitation order.

Stephen Parker, prosecuting, told the court how the tipper truck had been taken from Kingsway in Church on July 23 last year and was spotted by police on false number plates the next day.

The court heard how the truck left the M61 at junction five and then reached speeds of up to 70mph in 40mph zones along the A6 before going the wrong way round the roundabout.

The Corsa suffered ‘significant damage’ and the ‘stunned’ driver sustained whiplash, friction burns and was off work for at least three weeks.

Philip Holden, defending Birtwell, said it was a ‘very unsavoury incident on a public highway’.

Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt said: “It’s a very bad piece of sustained dangerous driving in a substantial vehicle so there was a real risk, if you collided with somebody, that you could cause serious damage and harm.

“Not withstanding that you chose to try and evade the police by driving at speeds up to 70mph on the wrong side of the road, and colliding with the police car when they tried to overtake you.

“Then of course, absolute madness, you drove at speed the wrong way round the roundabout and a lady driving perfectly lawfully came into collision with the truck.”

‘I’m going to chop you up’

Birtwell threatened to ‘chop up’ his girlfriend’s father in a separate incident before crashing his getaway car into a ditch, the court heard.

Paul Birtwell drove onto Pothouse Lane in Oswaldtwistle to pick up his girlfriend Diane Kreft and, when he saw her father Dean Kreft parked in his work van, he pulled along side and shouted ‘get out of the way you f****** muppet’.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Birtwell then got out of the van holding a ‘large knife’ and walked towards Mr Kreft and his passenger Joshua Tyrie.

Stephen Parker, prosecuting, told the court that Birtwell was shouting ‘I’m going to chop you up’ while waving the knife towards Mr Tyrie’s face.

The court was told that Mr Tyrie was ‘afraid’ and thought Birtwell was ‘going to stab him’ because he was ‘very angry’.

Mr Kreft then got a spade out of the back of the van to ‘protect them’ before Birtwell got back into his Vauxhall Corsa, the court heard.

Mr Parker said Birtwell tried to speed off but crashed off the edge of the lane into a ditch and ran away.

Birtwell pleaded guilty to threatening another with an offensive weapon and dangerous driving.

Police chased Paul Birtwell in a tipper truck before he went the wrong way round a roundabout and collided with a Vauxhall Corsa

The court heard how the incident happened at around 6.30pm on August 23 last year.

Mr Parker said Birtwell and Mr Tyrie had previously lived together at Mr Kreft’s house.

However after Mr Tyrie advised Diane Kreft that a relationship with Birtwell was ‘not good for her and to forget about him’ there had been ‘animosity between them’.

Philip Holden, defending Birtwell, claimed Mr Kreft and Mr Tyrie had picked up the spade first and Birtwell only picked up the knife ‘in answer to the spade being brandished towards him’.

He told the court how Birtwell had lost his job in June 2016 and ‘fell back into his old ways’.

He said: “Fortunately nobody was hurt. He was a man endeavouring to work hard for a period of time.”

Judge Beverley Lunt said: “There’s never an excuse to be out on a road holding a knife of the size you have.

“You were on bail for that matter and on licence having been released early from a four-year sentence.

“The only real mitigation is your remorse, contrition and guilty pleas.”