An Indian-origin man has been jailed for 21 months by a British court for illegally taking a double-decker bus on a drunken joyride here, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage by dangerously driving around the streets.
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Deepak Malhotra, 35, who had admitted aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst disqualified and drink driving at an earlier hearing, was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court here on Wednesday.
He stole the bus on the night of July 7 while it was parked at Watford Bus Station in Hertfordshire near here and drove it around, mounting kerbs, hit railings, jumping a red light and causing motorists to brake sharply.
Investigating officer Police Constable Mark Logan said, “Malhotra caused thousands of pounds worth of damage as he dangerously drove around the streets of Watford and it is only pure luck that no-one was injured during his reckless joyride”.
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“He was both under the influence of alcohol and banned from driving at the time of the offence,” Logan said.
Malhotra’s lawyer argued that his client had expressed genuine remorse and had been on suicide watch as he was devastated by a marriage breakdown and family problems.
He had 14 previous convictions for 30 offences including drink driving and was banned from driving at the time of the incident.
The court was told that Malhotra got onto the bus by forcing open the doors at the bus garage while the driver had gone for a toilet break, having left the key in the ignition.
He eventually came to a halt after his dangerous joyride and ran away from the vehicle but was arrested soon after.
Prosecutor Will Noble told Malhotra in court, “It was a double-decker bus. What followed was a spectacularly dangerous piece of driving and it was a wonder no pedestrian or other road user was hurt”.
“You drove the bus erratically, at speed and through red lights. This was an atrocious and highly dangerous piece of driving. The nature of which was a double-decker bus on which you had no training. You were at the time a disqualified driver. These offences are so serious they merit a custodial sentence,” Noble said.
The bus, which was worth 150,000 pounds (USD 182,795), had to be written off as a result of the disaster.