Stratford Man Arrested When He Returns Stolen Police Car To Police Station
Because he made it look too easy? Because he only had provisional licence? Because he forgot to tun on the blues and twos?
A judge said ‘you couldn’t make it up’ after hearing of Timothy Clapham’s night-time escapade during which he drove the police car at up to 95mph before returning it.
Yeah. He brought it back.
At Warwick Crown Court, Clapham admits to burgling the police station in the early hours of January 28 and aggravated vehicle taking. The 42-year-old of Pittaway Avenue, Shipston, also admitted driving the car while uninsured and while holding only a provisional licence.
And then it got better:
And at Coventry Crown Court, following the preparation of psychiatric reports on him, he was given a community sentence with two years supervision and a condition he receives mental health treatment for two years.
To recap: man steals police car from police station. Man drives police car. Man returns police car. Man gets sent to doctors.
The prelude to the caper puts the in lid on the police’s intelligence report:
Prosecutor John Butterfield said in the early hours the police had gone to a farm near Aston Cantlow because of a report of torchlight. Because he only had a provisional licence they could not let him get into his car to drive home. So they took the car and Clapham back to Stratford police station and told him to make his way home and that he could collect the car when he had someone to accompany him.
Yeah. The police gave him a lift to the police station.
But after wandering around for a while, Clapham returned to the police station at 5.30am and found a rear door, which would normally require a code to enter, was open. Clapham took a set of keys and went outside where he pressed the fob to see which one it operated – and it opened a marked police Ford Focus. He put on a police helmet and drove out of the station but a legitimate police car was returning, and the officers were able to see him drive out.
This might well be the greatest story ever: to be policeman you just need the right hat.
They turned to follow him, and he drove for about a mile out of Stratford on roads with a 50mph limit at up to 90mph and, although he had no headlights on, he did put on the police car’s siren and blue lights. He then headed back to the police station, this time reaching up to 95mph, forcing another car to take avoiding action, and skidded to a halt on the police station car park where he was arrested.
He finished with a flourish. Sadly, rather than laughing his head off and seeing the obvious humour in the story, Clapham is classed as sick:
It was acknowledged in court Clapham had an established diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, and he has been admitted to psychiatric hospitals on four occasions as a consequence.
As Jamie Strong, defending, says:
“He was clearly severely mentally unwell at the time, and a few days after his arrest he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital; he was sectioned.”
After his arrest…
Judge Phillip Gregory listens. He rules:
“This is a man who went to a police station which had not been properly locked, went inside and listened to a radio and took the keys to a police car and got into it and drove off and put the blue lights on. You couldn’t make it up, could you?”
You could. But the police wouldn’t want to believe you and if you repeated it in public they’d have you locked away…