"Lunatic" motorcyclist jailed for high-speed chase between Harrogate and Leeds

A “lunatic” motorcyclist led police on a death-defying high-speed chase between Harrogate and Leeds in which he sped down roads on the wrong carriageway, shot through red lights – and even scrambled over the lush grasslands of The Stray in full view of dog-walkers.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 3:10 pm
Updated Friday, 31st December 2021, 3:18 pm

Jamil Rabbani, 32, a banned driver, ignored flashing blue lights and sirens as he went the wrong way around roundabouts in the face of oncoming traffic, overtook one vehicle at a pedestrian island on Leeds Road and weaved in and out of traffic as several police vehicles tried to keep up, York Crown Court heard.

His driving became so dangerous that the first police car eventually backed off while officers kept the fleeing Honda motorbike under observation, said prosecutor Muneeb Akram.

Other marked police cars took up the chase as convicted drug dealer Rabbani - who for whatever reason had turned up at The Stray with two mobile phones to meet some “people” - bombed “in and out of traffic, riding head-on into oncoming traffic”.

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A man has been jailed for 18 months and banned from driving for three years after leading police on a death-defying high-speed chase between Harrogate and Leeds

Mr Akram said: “The traffic is busy.

“As the bike reached the Prince of Wales roundabout, the rider went into oncoming traffic the wrong way round the roundabout and then goes onto The Stray, an area of protected grasslands in Harrogate with dog walkers and the general public.”

As Rabbani – who had set off from The Stray with a pillion passenger but ended up in Leeds without one – sped back onto the highway, he was pursued by other traffic officers along the A61 and all the way to the Leeds rings road where a ‘stinger’ was laid to try to bring the motorbike to a halt.

It didn’t, and the Honda sped the wrong way down the ring road into oncoming traffic, going through “numerous red lights and riding at pedestrians at crossings without stopping” as Rabbani approached Leeds.

He then sped down footpaths and more carriageways on the wrong side of the road for a “considerable distance”, again in the face of oncoming traffic.

Police followed the Honda into Chapeltown by which time the police helicopter had joined the chase.

Mr Akram added: “The police helicopter relayed information back that (Rabbani) had left the vehicle in a back alley.

“He’s seen to discard his helmet and gloves and walk into a barber’s shop.”

A police constable went into the barber’s acting on information from the helicopter and a photo of Rabbani which had been emailed to him from the force control room.

He found Rabbani inside the hairdresser’s and arrested him.

Rabbani, from Leeds, was taken to Harrogate Police Station where officers seized two mobile phones from him and documents for the motorbike.

They showed that the bike had been bought for £2,600 about a month before the incident on November 20.

He was charged with dangerous driving and driving while disqualified and admitted both offences.

He appeared for sentence on Thursday.

The court heard that Rabbani’s lengthy criminal record included previous convictions for drug supply and several driving-while-disqualified offences.

In 2016, he was jailed for eight months for dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle-taking.

Shila Whitehead, mitigating, claimed the reason Rabbani had taken the motorbike to Harrogate was to sell it to “people who responded to an advert he placed in a magazine”, but they were ultimately reluctant to hand him the cash for the bike when they met at The Stray.

Ms Whitehead said: “He thought he was going to be taken advantage of.

“That’s why he drove off in the manner that he did.”

She said the majority of his offending over the past 10 years had been drug related.

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, blasted Rabbani for his “appalling” driving record.

He told the defendant: “You have driven several times whilst disqualified and on this occasion you purchased a motorbike while you were disqualified, and a significant distance was driven, and you drove like a lunatic.

“You put the lives of the public in serious jeopardy, going the wrong way round roundabouts, overtaking cars between traffic islands and driving at high speed.

“No doubt it’s just pure luck that nobody was killed. This was one of the worst pieces of dangerous driving I have seen.”

Rabbani, of Harlech Terrace, Beeston, was jailed for 18 months and given a three-year driving ban.