Serial thief, 31, who started smoking cannabis when he was 10 cornered by cops after driving down dead-end street


Speeding uninsured driver James Latham tried to evade police as they pursued his vehicle.

The 31-year-old was driving a red Fiat Punto linked to several offences when police tried to stop him.

But he refused to pull over and when he was forced to stop at a dead end he tried to run away from officers.

Magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard Latham was detained and was found to have committed a series of thefts.

Prosecutor Alicia Perry said Latham had stolen engine oil from a Shell petrol station, in Newcastle, on February 27.

She said: “That same day officers saw the Punto and received information that there was no registered keeper or insurance, and it was linked to offences.

“When it reached Audley Road, in Bignall End, the defendant sped up to 50mph in a 30mph zone. Officers illuminated their lights and activated the siren. A short pursuit ensued. The driver of one vehicle was forced to stop when the Punto cut him up.

“The Punto stopped at a dead end in Albert Street and officers pursued the defendant on foot. He was detained and a drug swipe was positive.”

Latham refused to give a sample at a police station to establish whether he had been driving under the influence of drugs. He went on to admit driving away from petrol stations without paying for fuel on three occasions between November and February. He also stole meat valued at £98 from Morrisons, in Newcastle.

Latham, of Ravens Close, Bignall End, pleaded guilty to two thefts, three charges of making off without payment, failing to stop when required by a police officer, failing to provide a specimen for analysis, and driving without insurance.

A pre-sentence report revealed Latham had started taking cannabis at the age of 10 and later progressed to cocaine and heroin use. His offending was all drug-related, as he stole goods to then sell to fund his drug habit and stole fuel to drive around the city to buy drugs.

The court heard he is now on a methadone prescription and has been heroin free ‘for a number of months’.

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Magistrates handed Latham a 12-month community order with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement. He was also made the subject of a curfew which means he must stay at home between 9pm and 7am for eight weeks.

Magistrate Eric Ratcliffe said: “It is a tragedy that you were taking drugs since the age of 10. This has been a bit of a wake-up call for you and you have taken some positive steps. It shows things are changing in your life.”

Latham was disqualified from driving for 20 months. He must pay £275 in court costs and charges plus £211 in compensation.





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