Somerset man jailed after driving military truck at police

A man has been sentenced to two years in prison after driving a two-and-a-half tonne military-style truck at police vehicles.

Geoff Marshall, 41, of Norton Fitzwarren, caused over £300,000 worth of damage by driving through a dozen cars after a bust up with his partner.

Judge Edward Burgess KC said he had been "extremely reckless".

Marshall had already to several charges including assault by beating.

Marshall had already pleaded guilty in September to several charges including assault by beating.

In a statement Marshall said he was "deeply ashamed" of his actions, which were the result of a mental breakdown.

Taunton Crown Court was told Marshall will serve half of a two year sentence in custody, with the time already spent in prison to be deducted from his overall jail time.

Marshall has also been disqualified from driving for two years and will need to take an extended test.

The incident began on 10 September with an argument between Marshall and his partner over text messages on his mobile phone.

Jack Barros, prosecuting, said that, fearing for her safety, the woman left the property and called the police.

When officers arrived at their home in Station Road, they found the defendant holding a chainsaw above his head before he got behind the wheel of the 1958 M35 truck.

The 41-year-old then drove the green flatbed truck through a roadblock, destroying three Avon and Somerset Police vehicles and damaging many other cars parked nearby - causing damage totalling £310,000.

Marshall was only arrested after police negotiators persuaded him not to jump from a bridge over the M5 motorway, Taunton Crown Court heard.

Police body-worn cameras and mobile phone footage filmed by neighbours, which was shown to the court, recorded Marshall hitting police vehicles in the truck as he fled the scene.

Mr Barros said: "A police officer was inside one of the vehicles at the time and he says he was spun around by the impact of the truck hitting the vehicle.

"Understandably, he says he was absolutely petrified by what he saw happen."

Damaged car smashed in by the truck
Vehicles including police cars were damaged during the incident

On the video, officers could be heard shouting to residents to get inside their homes as the truck came towards them and Marshall being told to stop.

The defendant drove the truck away and stopped near the M5 where he abandoned the vehicle and got onto a bridge that crosses the motorway and threatened to take his own life.

Police negotiators were able to talk him down and he was later arrested.

In a victim impact statement, one police officer said: "I have never been so scared as I have during this incident.

"I seriously thought I was going to be crushed and killed."

Military truck being driven towards a police car
Police vehicles and privately-owned cars were damaged in the incident in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton

The 41-year-old had already admitted one count of assault by beating, 11 counts of criminal damage and one count of dangerous driving at an earlier hearing.

Marshall, who was unrepresented, told the court in mitigation he was suffering significant mental health problems as a result of difficulties in his marriage.

He said: "I never intended to harm anyone and I never intended to do any damage either.

"I am deeply ashamed of my actions on that day."

He added his actions were out of "desperation, panic and terror during this breakdown" and there was "never any malice".

'Very serious damage'

Judge Edward Burgess KC said: "It is apparent to me that you are genuinely ashamed, and in your words 'deeply ashamed', now you reflect about how you behaved on that day.

"I accept that you were in a desperate state mentally and emotionally suicidal in your thinking and that caused you to act in a way which was totally out of character."

Judge Burgess added he thought Marshall did intend to cause "very serious damage".

He added: "The reality is the way you behaved was extremely reckless at the very least to create a very high risk of injury, if not death to others."

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