A car thief who drove like a “lunatic” and crashed a Range Rover into a field with the owner’s dog inside has been jailed for 19 months.
Nicholas Oakland, 30, described as a “one-man crime wave”, took the Range Rover Sport from Watson Street off Holgate Road in York while the owner Matthew Wilson was inside a corner shop, York Crown Court heard.
Mr Wilson had left his assistance dog Jake, a Doberman, behind a separator at the back of the vehicle when it was stolen by Oakland, who sped off towards Selby in “lunatic” fashion which ultimately resulted in Jake’s death, said prosecutor Ayman Khokar.
Oakland bombed down the A19, streaking through busy traffic at over 120mph as police gave chase, added Mr Khokar.
A police helicopter was used to track the vehicle as Oakland drove on the wrong side of the road, weaved in and out of traffic at ludicrous speeds and shot straight over junctions, with Jake in the boot.
Video footage showed him overtaking numerous vehicles in the tightest of margins before hitting a central traffic island at 103mph as it approached a roundabout, forcing Oakland to take the first exit left towards North Duffield.
Oakland, of Cecilia Place, York, then sped along the A163 Market Weighton Road with the blue lights flashing behind him, clocking up speeds of 125mph.
Ahead of the chase, other officers laid a stinger at the next junction, the Blackwood Crossroads near Skipwith, but despite it deflating the Rover’s tyres, Oakland kept his foot to the metal as the vehicle swerved across the road.
The Range Rover swerved around 180 degrees and Oakland lost complete control of the vehicle as it ploughed into a post and a verge on the opposite side of the road, causing the 4×4 to flip over and “barrel-roll” into a field.
Dog had to be put to sleep
Jake was thrown from the vehicle but, emerged from the back of the Range Rover. Evidently distressed, he then ran across fields and roads around North Duffield as officers tried to catch him.
Oakland, meanwhile, was trapped inside the upturned vehicle and had to be freed by police.
The force helicopter located Jake by using thermal imaging. Finally, an officer managed to usher him off the road and into a van. He was then taken to a veterinary practice, initially for treatment to an injured and bloodied paw.
However, he was brought back in the following day because his back legs were wobbly and he was in discomfort.
Jake was taken to a specialist vet who concluded that Jake had suffered unnecessary suffering due to the trauma of the accident. Sadly, he had to be put down.
Oakland was arrested at the scene and charged with dangerous driving, taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, driving while disqualified, causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and driving without insurance.
Two psychiatrists initially judged Oakland not fit to face trial because he was mentally unwell, which meant a finding-of-the-facts hearing had to be held in August in his absence to determine whether he did the acts alleged. A jury found that he did all the acts.
Sentence was adjourned until today (Wednesday, 20 October) after Oakland was remanded in custody, during which he had sufficient time to get himself clean of drugs and the doctors ultimately deemed him fit to plead.
He was duly rearraigned today when he admitted all five offences.
Mr Khokar said Oakland had 45 previous convictions for 102 offences including vehicle theft, dangerous driving, shoplifting and driving while disqualified.
In 2019, he was jailed for 20 months following two police chases in July and August 2018 in which he drove through a line of traffic cones on Fulford Road, causing workmen to leap out of the way, and rammed a police car at 70mph while driving without his lights on, at night, in Tang Hall Lane, before driving the wrong way down Hull Road.
He was described as psychotic at the time after long-standing mental-health problems linked to drugs.
‘You could have killed people’
Defence barrister Allan Armbrister said Oakland was “devastated” when he heard the dog had died.
Judge Sean Morris told Oakland: “You, when you are in drink or (on) drugs, are a one-man crime wave.
“On this occasion, you drove like a lunatic. You could have killed people and you caused terrible suffering to somebody’s precious friend and pet, which had to be put down.”
He slammed Oakland for his “shocking” criminal record.
Oakland was handed a 19-month jail sentence, but he won’t spend too long in prison as he will only serve half of that behind bars, minus the time he had already spent on remand. He was also banned from driving for three years and nine months.
The victim, Matthew Wilson, Jake’s owner said: “The past few months have been extremely traumatic for our family.
“Jake wasn’t simply a family pet but a trained support dog, a companion, and my best friend.
“We had travelled to over 22 countries together and were planning on more adventures before his life was cut short.
“We continue to miss our boy Jake every day and it still difficult to comprehend the unnecessary injuries and suffering that he had to go through which ultimately resulted him in losing his life.
“We wish to thank North Yorkshire Police for being so supportive and caring during this process and making sure that justice was served for Jake.”
Traffic Sergeant Julian Pearson of North Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing group said: “Oaklands driving posed a serious risk to other road users as he drove the stolen vehicle in an appalling way. Thankfully with the use of specialist police resources we were able to quickly bring the vehicle to a stop less than 30 minutes after it was reported stolen.
“He showed no regard for the safety of the family dog that was in the rear of the vehicle. It was imperative that we quickly located Jake after the collision and ensured he received immediate veterinary care and returned to his owners.
“This case has touched everyone involved in the investigation and we all wished that Jake made a full recovery from his injuries; sadly this wasn’t to be and Jake passed away a few weeks later. Jake was a family member, a loved one and will be dearly missed.”