Bus joyride was like a “Hollywood movie” - drunk driver jailed for taking £300,000 single decker

Stephen Pope, Wakefield Magistrates court.
Stephen Pope, Wakefield Magistrates court.

A drunken man with an obsession for driving buses took a £300,000 single decker on a joyride just “like something out of a Hollywood movie”.

Stephen Pope, 34, rammed a police car during the chase, drove the wrong way down the A650 dual carriageway and crashed into three cars before police boarded the bus and Tasered him on July 27.

Recorder Paul Isaacs, passing a 98-week sentence, said: “It was like something out of a Hollywood movie. Instead of it being a tank or a ridiculous fast car, it was a bus and the chase was on.”

Leeds Crown Court heard had how banned driver Pope had tried to take a bus from Wakefield Bus Station earlier that evening but only moved it a short distance.

But Prosecutor Simon Reevell said Pope returned later the same evening and took a £300,000 bus and set off into Wakefield.

Police spotted him in the city centre and a low speed pursuit began. The patrol car pulled in front of the bus but was rammed from the rear.

Mr Reevell said: “The bus started to veer all over the road, a police car was knocked off the carriageway. The bus then crossed the central reservation, continuing on the wrong side of the A650 dual carriageway.”

The court heard how oncoming cars had to take evasive action.

But Mr Reevell said three parked cars were damaged when the bus collided with them. The impact left one vehicle embedded in a wall.

Police managed to halt the bus on Ledger Lane, Outwood, before it turned onto the A61.

Mr Reevell said the pursuit lasted for a “significant time span” and involved the use of the police helicopter.

Officers then had to force entry to the bus and Pope was struck with a baton and was Tasered.

Afterwards Pope, of Peterson Road, Wakefield, was given a breath test and found to be almost twice the legal limit.

He had drunk two litres of cider.

Pope told police he was also responsible for taking a bus from Wakefield Bus Station on July 15. That time he fled after crashing into two other buses and causing £6,500 worth of damage.

Pope pleaded guilty to nine offences which included two of aggravated vehicle taking, driving while over the prescribed limit, driving with no insurance and driving while disqualified.

The court heard Pope had similar previous convictions for taking buses in Wakefield and in St Helens.

Recorder Isaacs said Pope had an “obsession for driving public service vehicles”.

Nicki Forster, mitigating, said Pope’s offending was opportunistic as you didn’t need a key to enter the bus.

She advocated a suspended sentence backed with an alcohol treatment requirement but Recorder Isaacs said the public would be “aghast” if he took that course.

He told Pope: “When you took the bus, on July 27, that was as bad a piece of driving of a public service vehicle as one could imagine.”

He banned Pope from driving for three years.