Shoplifting mum drove at PC to evade capture
A SHOPLIFTER knocked down a policeman before speeding at 70mph on the wrong side of the road through red lights as she tried desperately to evade capture, a court heard.
Mother-of-two Mary Togher was trying to escape with clothes worth £300 she had taken from a branch of Matalan.
After hitting the police sergeant, flipping him on to her bonnet, she drove on to a pavement and sped off, with two smashed windows, at one point speeding towards oncoming traffic as she ran a red light.
Heroin addict Togher, of Martock Road, Bedminster, was jailed for a total of 11 months yesterday after pleading guilty to theft, dangerous driving and assault with intent to resist arrest at an earlier hearing.
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Judge Ian Grainger said her actions were "exceedingly dangerous" and that she had used the car as a "lethal weapon".
Nicholas Doherty, prosecuting at Reading Crown Court, said a store detective at the city's branch of Matalan called police on October 4 in relation to three unconnected cases of suspected shoplifting.
The store detective and the police sergeant spotted Togher and another woman, Natasha Daniels, of Brockley Walk, Bedminster Down, leaving the store with a large laundry basket.
The suspects fled to a red Hyundai car and as the police sergeant stood in the road and raised his hand to stop it Togher accelerated into him, the court heard.
The impact lifted him off his feet, said Mr Doherty, but the officer gave chase and caught up with Togher when her escape was blocked at a junction. He smashed two windows with his baton but Togher, 38, then drove across the pavement to get away.
She drove at 70mph through a 30mph zone, pursued by a police car.
"She went through red lights on the opposite side of the road in to opposing traffic, forcing them to perform an emergency stop," said Mr Doherty.
After a chase lasting four minutes, Togher, who the court heard was a mother of 12-year-old twin boys, pulled over and screamed expletives at the officers as they detained her.
The court heard Togher had a heroin habit costing her between £80 and £100 per day and had previous convictions including theft, prostitution and reckless driving.
Daniel Wright, mitigating, said: "She panicked, she was trying to get away. She had no intention of injuring anybody but accepts her behaviour was reckless to say the least."
Togher had been taken in to care at the age of three and began using heroin at the age of 14, he said.
Judge Grainger disqualified Togher from driving for two years.
Daniels, aged 34, admitted theft and will be sentenced at a later date.