Police caught suspected drunk driver hiding in bush after racing through Harrogate

Police in Harrogate
Police in Harrogate

A suspected drunk driver raced away from police around the streets of Harrogate before being found hiding in the bushes near St James' Retail Park.

Linval Watson, 34, was seen seen leaving the Viper Rooms at 5.30am on Sunday, December 6, before getting in his Audi TT and driving to Union Street.

Watson dumped his car across the junction with King's Road when a police van spotted it blocking the exit and quickly returned to question the driver.

When an officer approached and asked the returning Watson to stop his car, he refused, turned his car around and sped away.

CCTV cameras caught Watson carelessly overtaking cars down Skipton Road, driving through red lights at the Claro Road junction and on the wrong side of the road down Starbeck High Street.

Eventually, police found his car abandoned near St James' Retail Park in Knaresborough with Watson found hiding in the bushes nearby.

After refusing a roadside breath test, Watson was taken Harrogate Police Station where he threatened officers and hurled homophobic abuse at them.

Officers again attempted to administer a breath test again to Watson when in his cell, but found him under a blanket and pretending to sleep.

Despite officers shouting to wake him up, Watson pretended to snore and even muttered 'that's an assault' when he was shoulder was shaken.

At Harrogate Magistrates Court on Thursday (April 21), Watson was found guilty of failing to provide a breath specimen, as well as failing to stop, careless driving and driving through a red light.

Representing himself, Watson, of Potternewton, Leeds, argued that his friend 'Darren' was driving his car that night and that he was unconscious when asked for a breath test.

However, magistrate Michael Jeffries agreed with officers that the defendant was conscious and his silence amounted to a 'wholesale refusal' of a breath test.

Mr Jeffries also concluded that Watson was driving the car and labelled it as 'careless driving at the very worst level this court has seen'.

He said: "When you were at the police station you were awake enough to accuse them off assaulting you and you ignored their request to take the procedure.

"We could hear the officer speak with you. You were pretending to be asleep. You were conscious.

"CCTV confirms that you went through a red light and you drove on the wrong side of the road down Starbeck High Speed.

"You were also driving at excessive speed, so much so that the police could not keep up with you."

Mr Jeffries warned Watson that the matter was so serious, there was a 'very real' chance he could face jail when he's sentenced next month.

Four of the officers involved on the night were present at court and told the magistrate that they could smell alcohol on him.

PC Amy Hunter said: "I followed the vehicle down Knaresborough Road, sticking to the 30mph speed limit, but he accelerated and I lost sight of him.

"When I arrived at St James' Retail Park, the vehicle was parked up at the end of the road and the defendant was drunk. As I got closer I could smell the alcohol on him.

"He was argumentative, very unsteady on his feet. In custody, he was rude, homophobic and offering a fight. He was very aggressive throughout."

TC Steve Wright said: "The male was lying on his bed with his blanket over him, there was a strong smell of intoxicant. We went in, called out his name to get a response.

"We shook his shoulder and the male turned round and said that's an assault and pulled the blanket back over him. He opened his eyes once, I didn't think he was asleep.

"Then there was snoring which I thought was put on because as soon as I finished it all stopped."

Watson was given an interim driving disqualification and will be sentenced next month.