TWO police officers who ended up in court over the way they pursued escaping burglars have been cleared of dangerous driving.
A jury at Chester Crown Court took less than an hour to clear the officers who had the charges brought against them after they had attempted to follow fleeing burglars who had earlier broken into Boots the Chemists in Mold.
Nicholas Bedford, 29, of Chester, was said to have pursued the stolen Cavalier along the A55 in the wrong direction for around three-and-a-half miles during the incident near Ewloe on April 20 last year.
Prosecutor, Simon Medland, told the court that Bedford, an officer with North Wales Police, had continued to pursue the vehicle at around 4am, even after it started going up the carriage-way the wrong way.
Several oncoming drivers had been forced to take evasive action, but no collision occurred. The vehicle was followed all the way to Birkenhead but was lost near the Mersey Tunnel.
Another serving officer, Philip Wright, 27, of Ellesmere Port, was also cleared of dangerous driving after he had driven up the slip road to the A55 in the wrong direction in a different car before turning around and pursuing on the correct carriageway.
The court heard from a fellow officer, PC Mark Jones, who had been in the car with Bedford at the time of the pursuit.
He said he felt safe at all times with Bedford's driving as he had kept a safe distance from the Cavalier.
Both officers had claimed that after initially wishing to arrest the two robbers in the car, their intention had switched to ensuring the safety of the public once the fleeing car had started going up the carriageway in the wrong direction.
But prosecutor Mr Medland argued both men had driven in a 'manifestly dangerous way' and that their intention had been to arrest the men.
Anthony Eyres, defending Bedford, said that at the time his client had been the only police patrol in a position to do anything about the escaping Cavalier as the police helicopter patrol had been grounded due to no pilot being available after 3am.
He argued Bedford had continued to follow the car along the carriageway so that he could monitor it and act as a warning to oncoming traffic.
Richard Butcher, defending Wright, argued it was a ridiculous situation that both officers should be facing charges when trying to do their jobs.
Bedford and Wright had only Grade 4 qualifications which allowed them to use the blue flashing signal and siren, and also drive at 20mph over national speed limits.
They could follow but not pursue vehicles.
Judge Elgan Edwards criticised the fact that the North Wales Police helicopter had not been available and communication between the control room and the patrol cars.
Judge Edwards also criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for the time delay in the matter coming to court.