Dramatic video footage has been released of a motorway pursuit which ended with a dangerous driver “ramming” into a police car, causing it to flip over and catch fire.
Wayne Smith was jailed for two years and two months last week after driving at up to 90mph with a young child in his car before crashing on the M5.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told Smith was trying to evade officers when he lost control and struck a marked patrol car.
Footage of the crash, showing Smith undertaking a lorry and an officer rushing to help a colleague trapped in a burning car, was released on Wednesday by Staffordshire Police.
The collision happened after officers using specialist road policing tactics tried to box Smith in between junction 22 and junction 21, near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, at about 9pm on August 5 last year.
The court was told an officer in the police car which overturned was lucky to have survived, having suffered multiple cuts and abrasions.
Smith had assaulted a woman during a row at an address in Staffordshire on August 4 before taking the child without the mother’s knowledge and driving 260 miles to Newquay, Cornwall, in the early hours of the following day.
Police, alerted by the youngster’s family, discovered two suicide notes on Smith’s laptop and, trying to make contact, then sent him two text messages, which he failed to reply to.
When automatic number plate recognition cameras picked up Smith’s black Ford Focus in Somerset heading north on the M5 back towards the Midlands, police moved to stop his car.
But 27-year-old Smith, of Mile Oak, Tamworth, “accelerated” away and veered left on to the hard shoulder to evade the marked cars, Oliver Woolhouse, prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Crown Court last week.
Smith undertook three vehicles, including a lorry, whose driver then watched as Smith passed in front, “swerved” to avoid another patrol car and lost control, ploughing straight into the side of a marked police BMW 4×4.
The police X5, driven by Pc Jason Smith, was hit with such force it flipped “multiple times”, coming to rest on its roof, leaving the officer trapped as the vehicle then caught fire.
Meanwhile, the defendant’s smashed-up car came to rest in a cloud of smoke and dust further down the carriageway, the court heard.
Smith was not wearing a seatbelt and the child had ended up in the footwell.
Appearing at a hearing conducted partly through Skype, Smith was sentenced following his conviction after trial in February of common assault, child cruelty, dangerous driving and causing actual bodily harm to the police officer.
Judge Barry Berlin, sentencing, accepted Smith had not deliberately “rammed” the police 4×4 but said that was “cold comfort” to the officer he injured.
Although the child suffered “mercifully” minor injuries, the judge said Smith had given little or no thought to the consequences of his actions, which were described as “entirely self-centred and callous”.
Smith, described by his barrister as “an intelligent young man” with a masters degree in physics, was also banned from driving for three years.