A tipper truck driver who stole a 32-tonne vehicle and drove the wrong way up a dual carriageway towards his ex-wife's house to "intimidate and harass" her has been jailed for six months.
On 16 March 2017, Patrick Denman, of Ashington, Northumberland, got into an argument with his boss, Dennis Derrick, after missing out on two promotions. The disgruntled 36-year-old then quit his job and headed towards the heavy goods vehicle (HGV).
CCTV footage showed Derrick pleading with Denman to stop as he blocked the path of the vehicle. "Stop! You're not getting out," Derrick shouted at the driver.
As Derrick was pushed up against the slow-moving vehicle, Denman told him to "get out the f****** way".
Derrick was forced from the vehicle's path and two colleagues attempted to gain entry into the cab to stop the defendant from leaving the Owen Pugh depot in Dudley, North Tyneside. The pair either fell or jumped as the lorry continued through the gates, the court heard. Nobody was injured.
Denman drove down the A1172 as police cars and helicopters were dispatched. He then pulled a U-turn on the dual carriageway and drove towards oncoming traffic and a police car.
The defendant drove through a red light and eventually ground to a halt just 400 yards in front of his ex-wife's home in Cramlington, Northumberland after getting stuck on a grassed area.
Giving evidence, Denman said: "I never had any intention of hurting anyone, I just wanted to get up, go to work and then go home.
"At the time I was under extreme pressure," he added. "I got panicked by the t25's (police car), and knew that if I went up on to the grass I could outrun them because a car is not going to be able to go through such thick heavy mud, so I took the risk.
"I just did it to escape – but I threw my hands up and admitted it straight away. Now I am losing my life, losing my son and my house.
"I had a complete emotional breakdown."
Before he was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday (10 May), Denman said: "I am truly sorry for the inconvenience I have caused and I didn't mean to hurt anybody."
While Judge Amanda Rippon said Denman's argument with Derrick pushed him over the edge, driving towards his ex-wife's house was no mere coincidence.
"Mr Denman was driving towards the house of his ex-wife – I accept that he was doing this to intimidate and harass her," the judge said.
She added: "Mr Denman, there really is only one appropriate sentence for someone who takes an HGV vehicle and drives it on public roads in rush-hour traffic against the traffic towards oncoming vehicles in the way you did."
As well as the prison term, Denman was handed a five-year restraining order and hit with a 15-month driving ban.