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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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High-speed chase passenger found guilty of taking car

A passenger in a stolen car that crashed into a taxi after a high speed chase has been found guilty of aggravated vehicle taking.

Related: Passenger did not know crashed car had been taken during burglary, Carlisle court told

Ashley George Macauley, 19, had told a jury at Carlisle Crown Court that he had no idea that the car had been stolen during a burglary in Penrith.

But the prosecution said he must have known, or at least suspected, that the driver, Scott Walpole, had come by the car dishonestly.

Macauley, of Newtown Road, Carlisle, pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicle taking – being a passenger in a car, which he knew to have been taken without consent – but was found guilty after a trial.

He was ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work, put under a curfew to keep him indoors at home every night for the next six months and made to pay £500 court costs.

He was also disqualified from driving for a year.

Macauley had originally been charged with burgling the Penrith house with Walpole, but that charge was dropped by the prosecution and he was formally found not guilty.

During the trial the jury heard that Walpole, 21, of Raffles Avenue, Carlisle, had already been sent to prison for his part in the crime.

In August last year he was jailed for five years for a string of offences including burgling the house in Cold Springs Court, Penrith, taking the BMW without the consent of the owner, and burgling the home of an 87-year-old man with Alzheimer’s in Aspatria.

The court heard this week that it was on February 5 last year that Walpole struck at the house in Penrith.

He stole jewellery, antique silver, two cameras and passports, and a set of car keys which he used to drive away the BMW parked outside. He stopped for petrol and drove off without paying and when police later spotted him driving in Carlisle they tried to stop him, but he sped away at high speed.

Some witnesses thought he was doing 80mph along city streets with 30mph speed limits, and another said that shortly before he crashed into a taxi in Wigton Road he was travelling at around 100mph.

The taxi driver was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken foot and his £7,000 car was a write-off.

Macauley crawled out of the crashed car and ran off, but his DNA was found in the car on the passenger’s air bag. In court he pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicle taking – being a passenger in a car, which he knew to have been taken without consent – saying he had no idea the car had been stolen.

He admitted being in the BMW, but said he had got into it only moments before it crashed. He said Walpole often picked him up – in various cars – so he had no reason to suspect that the BMW had been taken dishonestly.

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