Dangerous driver jailed after crashing stolen car in Forest Row

Chris Hillman (inset)
Chris Hillman (inset)

A car thief accelerated towards police before making off at speeds of up to 95mph in a 30mph zone on New Year’s Day.

Sussex Police said Chris Hillman then crashed the stolen Ford Focus down a bank off Hartfield Road, Forest Row, and escaped on foot.

He was located following enquiries at an address in Horam two days later and taken into custody, where he was arrested for multiple offences.

Police received a report that Hillman had stolen the yellow car from his father’s house in Uckfield about 8.22am on Tuesday January 1.

Officers went to an associated address in Evelyn Clark Square, Forest Row, within minutes, where he was found in the vehicle.

A police statement says that as they got out of their car, Hillman accelerated towards them but swerved to avoid contact at the last moment. He then made off along Hartfield and reached speeds of 95mph before police lost sight of him.

PC Tom Thorpe said: “I started to open my passenger door, ready to get out. As Hillman saw us, he suddenly accelerated forwards at speed and my first thought was that he was going to ram us.

“I don’t know quite how he missed us, however he swerved around us and was revving the car extremely loudly and wheel spinning, creating a cloud of smoke form the tyres.

“He turned from Lewes Road onto Hartfield and quickly accelerated up to at least 95mph. We were doing our best to keep up with him, however such was his extremely high speed within a residential 30mph zone, he soon disappeared from our sight.”

After carrying out a search of the area, the vehicle was found crashed and abandoned in a lane leading towards Ashdown House School. There was no sign of Hillman, so police conducted enquiries to locate him.

Following his arrest, he was remanded in custody and charged with the following offences:

Aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving;

Driving while disqualified;

Driving without insurance;

Breach of a restraining order;

Breach of a non-molestation order.

The 29-year-old, unemployed, of Tallwood Road, Horam, pleaded guilty to all five offences and was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Friday February 8 to a total of 18 months’ imprisonment.

He was also disqualified from driving for 33 months.

PC Thorpe added: “Hillman showed absolutely no regard for the safety of other road users or pedestrians. In my opinion, his driving fell far below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver, and was clearly very dangerous. The area was busy with other vehicles and it is incredibly lucky he didn’t collide with anyone else.”