A driver avoided jail after leading police on a pointless high-speed chase with a young child in the car, forgetting he passed his driving test and was legal to drive.
Zak Palmer, 25, from Cheswick Green, West Midlands, tripled the speed limit and came ‘within inches’ of smashing into other motorists during the unnecessary chase around Sheldon.
Palmer, who had a young boy in the car at the time, ‘panicked’ after forgetting he had passed his driving test just weeks earlier and was in fact completely legal.
He was licensed and insured to drive his Volkswagen Golf and he had not been drinking or taking drugs at the time of the chase, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
Zak Palmer (pictured), 25, from Cheswick Green, West Midlands, tripled the speed limit during a high-speed police chase around Sheldon, where Palmer forgot he had a driving licence
He hit speeds of 90mph, shot over give-way markings, went the wrong way around a roundabout, and persisted in trying to escape even after police rammed him.
Palmer has committed numerous driving offences in the past, for which he had previously been disqualified from the road.
When he was finally stopped and arrested during the chase on June 26, he said: ‘I know, I know, I’ve just come off a ban bro.’
Palmer was said to have ‘panicked’ when he saw the police and now acknowledges that it was ‘very stupid’, the court heard on Friday.
Anthony Bell, defending, said: ‘The irony is he had passed his test a few weeks shortly before this incident. It’s forgetting that fact and reacting in the way he had done previously when being followed by police that led him to drive in this way.’
Palmer was jailed for two years in 2019 for assisting an offender, giving murderer James Atherley cash and sim cards while he was on the run. The high-speed chase came while he was on licence after his release.
Mr Bell said: ‘He panicked when he saw the police and reverted in that moment to the man who shouldn’t have been driving and had no licence.
‘He acknowledges it was very stupid and he put at risk all the hard work he has done since his release from prison.’
Palmer pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving while appearing at Birmingham Crown Court via video link from HMP Hewell on Friday, where he has been held on remand.
He was said to be ‘anxious’ about the prospect of further prison time, but was given a reprieve as he was sentenced to 12 months suspended for 21 months and banned from driving for two years.
Prosecutor Richard Davenport said Palmer was driving the Golf with a boy in the passenger seat when police saw the vehicle without its lights on.
He said Palmer reached 50mph in a 30mph street, prompting officers to activate the sirens, but ‘instead of stopping the defendant made a right turn and accelerated away’.
Palmer was jailed for two years in 2019 for helping murderer James Atherley while he was on the run. Atherley stabbed Callum Lees (pictured), 20, to death at a house party in 2017
Palmer sped up to 70mph and 90mph as he pelted down narrow residential streets as well as disregarded keep-left bollards and give-way markings, Mr Davenport said.
Police resorted to ‘tactical contact’ and collided into the back of the Golf during the high-speed chase, before Palmer eventually pulled over around three minutes later.
While sentencing, Judge Roderick Henderson said: ‘The reason why we take driving offences so seriously is because most weeks we have a case in the crown court that starts off like yours, a police chase, that ends up with somebody dead.
‘Very often the person that ends up dying, if in your case, would have been the child sitting in your car. You would be serving a much longer sentence and would have to live with that and a child would have been taken from its family.’
But the judge ruled it was ‘worth taking a temporary risk’ to suspend the sentence because of the efforts Palmer had made to turn his life around.
He must complete 20 days rehabilitation activity and adhere to a four-month curfew between 10pm and 6am.
Palmer was previously jailed for two years in 2019 for helping murderer James Atherley, previously of Solihull, while he was on the run.
In August 2017, Atherley stabbed Callum Lees, 20, to death at a house party in Kingshurst. He evaded police for several weeks before he was arrested in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Atherley was convicted of murder and jailed for 26 years in 2018. A trial heard he had called Palmer after the stabbing and had been supplied with cash and sim cards as he went on the run.
Palmer, and two other people, were found guilty of assisting an offender.