The dad of a man who caught driving while high on cannabis following a police chase was spared prison after he begged the judge for mercy.
Connor Moon, 21, was told by the judge he was going to be locked-up after driving his friend’s van erratically with four passengers inside.
But the judge had a dramatic change of heart after Moon’s dad, Peter, interrupted the sentencing to tell the judge his son ‘would not survive jail’.
Shouting from the public gallery, Peter, 46, begged the judge to give him ‘one more chance’, a move which could have landed himself in jail.
During the case, a police officer said the pursuit on February 21 was ‘the worst driving’ he’d seen in his 20-year career.
Moon, of Earl Shilton, Leicester, admitted driving dangerously, under the influence of cannabis, without a licence or insurance, and failing to stop for a police officer.
Moments before Peter’s outburst, Recorder Robert Spencer-Bernard said:
The public would think I’d taken leave of my sense if I didn’t immediately send you to prison.
At this point, Peter dramatically stood up and shouted down from the public gallery.
Your Honour, can I say something? I’m his father. My son isn’t capable of surviving a jail sentence.
After hearing the dramatic outburst, Recorder Spencer-Bernard said:
I’m prepared to change my mind in the circumstance of this sentence. In the light of what your father has said, I’m prepared to suspend it.
You have him to thank. You’ve escaped immediate custody by the skin of your teeth.
It won’t happen again.
The court heard Moon overtook traffic, burst a tyre, and raced over a mini-roundabout and through a hedge in Stoney Stanton, Leicester, forcing a passerby to dive out of the way to avoid a collision.
Prosecutor Jonathan Dunne said that the runaway driver, who also suffers from mental health issues, had to brake hard to avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle.
Sam Coe, defending, said:
He immediately expressed regret to the officer and asked ‘Did I hit him?’ about the pedestrian. He’s rarely been out since this.
He’s someone who needs help and suffers from anxiety, low mood, attention deficit disorder and has mental health difficulties.
Speaking outside the court, Peter said he is doing everything to support his son.
Connor is my world, I’ve had custody of him since he was ten. I couldn’t sit by without saying something, I know he can turn his life around.
I want to thank the judge for reconsidering. I’m very grateful he listened. I’ve never seen Connor more remorseful about anything. I will do everything in my power to support Connor in keeping his promise not to reoffend.
He’s so sorry for the person he nearly hit and has been going on about it since it happened – how glad that he is the person wasn’t injured.
Connor has had difficulties, he’s never been to mainstream school and needs more help than ever from outside agencies. He’s been left high and dry by the authorities. His love of cars got him into trouble.
I’m trying to get him on a mechanic’s course or to legally take him to a track day on private ground. He can’t keep on breaking the law and getting away with it, we all know that. This is Connor’s chance to prove himself – and not let me or the judge down.
And an understandably relieved Connor, who lives with his dad, said:
The judge had definitely made up his mind and I thought ‘that’s it, I’m going down.’ Dad then started speaking, he’s an absolute legend.
I owe him my freedom and I’d like to thank him for standing by me and also thank the judge. I definitely deserve the five month curfew as punishment, as I did something wrong and have to pay for it.
I’ve learnt my lesson.
In the end, Connor was handed a six month jail sentence, suspended for two years and placed on a five month 7pm-to-7am tagged curfew.
He was also banned from driving for 18 months and told to attend 15 days of rehabilitation activity.
After the case, Moon’s solicitor, Deborah Martin said in her 18 years in that line of work, she’d never seen a judge change his mind like that during sentencing.
Hopefully the decision turns out to be justified.