Arguing driver who pulled handbrake on at 70mph avoids A1 death....and jail (From The Northern Echo)
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Darlington driver who pulled handbrake on at 70mph during argument avoids jail
A MAN who could have caused carnage on the region's busiest road when he pulled on the handbrake of his girlfriend's car as they travelled at 70mph has dodged prison as well as death.
Arran Tait and Alice Laverick incredibly walked away unscathed after the Toyota Corolla spun through 360 degrees, rolled over twice and landed crushed in a ditch alongside the A1.
Tait, from Darlington, faced jail when he appeared in court yesterday (Thursday, August 29) but was given a suspended sentence after a judge heard Miss Laverick is standing by him despite his "stupidity".
The 28-year-old's potentially-lethal prank was sparked as the couple argued in the car about Miss Laverick's mother smoking all of his rolled-up cigarettes, Teesside Crown Court heard.
The hatchback was in the second lane of the southbound carriageway near Scotch Corner, North Yorkshire, when Tait pulled on the handbrake, prosecutor Sue Jacobs told the court.
After getting free from the written-off wreckage of the £3,500 vehicle, Miss Laverick told police that she felt she was "at peace" as she crashed, and would "face whatever came".
Mrs Jacobs said: "She clearly expected to die . . . it spun through 360 degrees, left the road, barrel-rolled twice and ended up on its side in a ditch. Thankfully, they didn't receive injuries."
Andrew White, mitigating, told the court: "He regrets the background to this intensely. Clearly, the consequences could have been catastrophic. He is extremely remorseful."
Tait admitted causing danger by interfering with a motor vehicle - which carries a maximum of seven years in jail - and was given 12 months, suspended for 18 months.
Judge Howard Crowson also ordered him to undergo Probation Service supervision and carry out 180 hours of unpaid work for the community as part of his punishment.
"You have come very, very close," the judge said. "I hope I don't see you again. Don't let me down. I can assure you, if you breach this order you will start off with that 12 months.
"You must now appreciate what you did was incredibly foolish. The potential for injury was obvious. To pull on the handbrake of a car doing such speed carries with it the inevitable risk."
Mr White said Tait, of Scholar's Park, Darlington, had thought about the consequences every day, and added: "It was completely unplanned, spontaneous and a completely stupid act.
"He accepts responsibility for what he has done and recognises the need to address his issues, managing his emotions. All I can describe it as, is a moment of madness."
The court heard how amazingly no other car was hit by the out-of-control Toyota at 8am on March 27, and shocked motorists stopped to go to the aid of the stricken pair.