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Heacham man Gary Howlett avoids prison sentence after driving away with police officer attached to car

A Heacham man has avoided going to prison after driving off while a police officer was “attached” to his car, leaving the officer with two sprained wrists and other injuries.

He proceeded to drive across a playing field before driving dangerously along a busy road, all after disposing of a knife in a playing field.

Gary Howlett, 44, of Dewdrop Close appeared at Lynn’s Magistrates’ Court where he admitted to a total of three offences.

Howlett was at Lynn’s Magistrates’ Court on Thursday
Howlett was at Lynn’s Magistrates’ Court on Thursday

Howlett admitted assaulting an emergency worker, as well as driving dangerously and having an offensive weapon in his possession.

Crown prosecutor Katharine Kibrya-Dean said that on March 12, police were called by Howlett’s family members saying they were concerned for his welfare.

A police officer found Howlett and pulled him over.

The officer informed Howlett that he would be arrested, but the defendant was heard saying “no I’m not” and started the engine of the silver BMW that he was driving.

The officer was attached to the car, and as Howlett drove off, the policeman remained so for five metres and then fell to the floor before Howlett sped away.

He sustained a number of injuries, including two sprained wrists and a number of cuts and bruises.

It was revealed that Howlett had driven across part of a playing field and had driven in a dangerous manner back to his mother’s house where he was later arrested.

He told police he was “not mentally well” and admitted to having a knife in his possession which he threw onto a playing field.

In mitigation, Alison Muir explained Howlett was going through a mental health episode at the time. “He had the knife to harm himself. He has suffered a number of traumas in his life,” said Ms Muir.

In relation to Howlett driving off and leaving the injured officer, Ms Muir added: “He didn’t go back to see if he was all right, he regrets this. He later saw the officer and apologised, he is remorseful.”

Ms Muir described Howlett’s actions as “reckless” and explained that the defendant did not know the officer had hold of the door handle.

The offences put him at risk of a custodial sentence, however, Ms Muir advised magistrates against sending him to prison and to give him a community order instead.

Magistrates gave him a 24-month suspended sentence, meaning if Howlett does re-offend, he could face going behind bars.

He was also given 25 rehabilitation activity days to complete and a 12-month driving disqualification and will have to do an extended retest to get behind the wheel again.

He was also ordered to pay court costs of £145 and a victim surcharge of £187, as well as £100 in compensation to the police officer who was injured.

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