A fuel thief who attempted to evade arrest by driving at high speeds through Tunbridge Wells in Kent has been jailed.
Harry Kerwick collided with other vehicles and mounted pavements, following a pursuit by Kent Police on 21 June 2017.
Kerwick had been driving a Mercedes which was in convoy with another car (a Honda), when officers were initially alerted to suspicious activity in the Edenbridge area.
Both vehicles were linked to a large number of bulk fuel thefts in areas of London, Surrey and Kent and were reported to be approaching Tunbridge Wells.
They were intercepted by several police cars as they entered the town through Langton Green. However, Kerwick continued to drive the Mercedes at speed, colliding with a number of vehicles as he made his way along St John’s Road.
Police were forced to abandon pursuits for both cars due to concerns for the safety of other drivers and pedestrians, before Kerwick than collided with a vehicle parked in St David’s Road.
He fled the scene on foot but was arrested close-by. The Mercedes was found to contain 100 litres of diesel decanted into separate containers.
Analysis of Kerwick’s mobile phone uncovered further evidence of his role in stealing fuel, with messages offering ‘half price diesel and petrol’ for bulk orders.
The Honda was later located, having been abandoned in a multi-story car park next to the train station. It was also found to contain stolen fuel and enquiries remain ongoing to apprehend the driver.
Kerwick, aged 29 and formerly of Hollyford, Billericay, Essex, pleaded guilty in court to charges of dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, theft of fuel and going equipped to steal fuel.
He also faced a number of further offences, as part of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police.
On 8 September, Kerwick was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court to a total of 3 years and 6 months imprisonment.
Tunbridge Wells chief inspector Dave Pate said: “Kerwick’s thoughtless and reckless actions could easily have had devastating consequences. He used the Mercedes to mount pavements used by school children making their way home and one witness reported she felt lucky to be alive, as she had to dive out of his way.
“Thieves like Kerwick see fuel theft as an easy way to make money and assume they will escape detection and justice. However, this is a significant sentence and one which I hope provides some reassurance to businesses and residents alike.”