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Shoplifter whose driving put lives at risk faces jail term

A prolific shoplifter put people’s lives in danger when he mounted a kerb and drove at speed through Newark.

James Kirtley was wanted for a string of shop thefts when officers on patrol spotted him behind the wheel of a car on Fosse Road.

At that point, police activated their blue lights and overtook Kirtley – ordering him to pull the Mini Cooper he was driving over.

The driver instead chose to re-overtake the braking police car and put his foot down, with a pursuit then taking place that saw the 41-year-old drive at 70 mph in a 30 mph zone and narrowly miss a member of the public.

This dangerous driving carried on down Pierson Street, where Kirtley found himself heading towards a dead end, so mounted the kerb and drove along the pavement, before travelling through some railings and crashing into the back of a parked car.

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He then abandoned the car and fled inside a nearby address, where he was caught by police and later refused to provide a specimen for analysis when officers suspected him of driving while under the influence of drugs.

That pursuit took place on 17 June 2023 and followed Kirtley’s involvement in eight separate shop thefts across the Newark area, between October 2022 and June 2023.

Kirtley stole a range of different items, including food, cleaning products and alcohol, while he also filled his car with fuel without paying for it, as part of his theft spree.

Five of these thefts took place within the space of three months, with Kirtley targeting a service station in Great North Road three times on 8 March, 19 March and 4 April, as well as Home Bargains, in Northgate Retail Park, on 25 January, and Asda, in Lombard Street, on 4 March.

He also stole items from Co-Op, in Albert Street, on 23 October 2022, Co-Op, in Church Drive, on 5 May, and Wilko, in Market Place, on 16 June – a day before he was caught driving dangerously by police.

Having pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop, failing to provide a specimen for analysis, six counts of theft, and making off without payment, Kirtley appeared at Nottingham Crown Court for sentencing on Monday (24 July).

Kirtley, of Knight’s Court, Newark, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and was disqualified from driving for three years.

PC Chelsea Seals, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Kirtley showed a complete disregard for the law and the safety of others when he ignored orders to pull over and instead drove away from police at speed around Newark.

“By swerving all over the road in the way he did – even driving along the pavement at one point – he put other motorists and pedestrians at serious risk of harm with his dangerous driving, which was completely unacceptable.

“This wasn’t an isolated incident when it came to Kirtley’s involvement in criminality however, as he was also wanted for a number of shop thefts over a sustained period of time.

“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, but can instead be hugely damaging to businesses, impact on people’s livelihoods, and affect customers too, who are ultimately the ones who are left to pay higher prices as a result.

“We are pleased to see Kirtley is now facing the consequences of his actions.”

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