A Lancashire police officer, who was carried away by enthusiasm as he searched for a stolen car, crashed his high powered police car into a bus after speeding through a red traffic light.
The bus driver and his only passenger suffered whiplash injuries after PC David Little ploughed into the vehicle in Broughton, Preston, while trying to spot the stolen car which he never had in his sight.
Little, 31, was travelling at 48 mph along the A6 Garstang Road in rainy conditions when he went through the red light despite being unable to see vehicles on Woodplumpton Road on his left because of a building line.
The BMW estate crashed into the side of the single decker bus at 39 mph and he had only put on his flashing lights and klaxon and braked half a second before impact when the driver had no chance of taking evasive action.
Little was described at Liverpool Crown Court as an “excellent” police officer and an advanced driver who “was a stickler for proper road use ad always upholding the highest standards.”
He pleaded guilty to driving dangerously on August 13 last year and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £200 towards prosecution costs and £15 victim surcharge.
His barrister Simon Gurney urged the judge not to disqualify Little on the grounds of exceptional circumstances but the judge disagreed and banned him for 12 months.
Judge Mark Brown said: “I cannot help but think that enthusiasm got the better of him on this occasion although he does not accept it was the thrill of the chase.”
He said Little had been travelling at 56 mph along the 40 mph road prior to the scene of the accident and as he approached the traffic lights, which he knew, both he and the bus driver had a very restricted view of the junction.
“It is extremely fortunate nobody was seriously hurt. In my judgement this was not an emergency situation and you were not immediately after a suspect. As you approached the junction you did not slow significantly or pay proper attention to the fact that there was a red light against you.
“That collision was caused entirely by your bad driving when you entered the junction against a red traffic light you had little or no regard to the safety of others.”
The judge said that he accepted he was remorseful and has been suffering stress since the incident.
Little, who is from Kendal Road, Lytham St Annes, who has been suspended from police driving since the incident, now faces police disciplinary proceedings and the judge urged the Chief Constable to bear in mind his good police record. Mr Gurney said that Little, who is based at Blackpool and has a young daughter, recognised by his actions he had jeopardised all his hard work in the police force. He said that stolen car incidents are treated as high priorities.