Police detective from Burton Latimer sentenced after 100mph A1 crash and illegally using PAVA spray at Kettering Tesco

He was on blue lights because he was late for a court appearance

Saturday, 9th October 2021, 2:14 am
The crash happened on the A1 while Chang was travelling to court

A rogue police officer who drove at high speed on blue lights on because he was late for court, then tried to make a phonecall before crashing at 100mph on the A1, has avoided jail.

Detective Constable Michael Chang was given a suspended sentence for the two incidents that happened within a few weeks of one another as lockdown began last year.

Chang, from Slipton Road, Burton Latimer, who now faces gross misconduct proceedings but has not been sacked, had been standing trial this week at Northampton Crown Court for dangerous driving having already admitted discharging his PAVA spray on an innocent member of the public.

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After the bulk of the trial had taken place and Chang, 39, had come under intense pressure during cross-examination, he changed his plea yesterday (Thursday, October 7) to one of guilty.

The court heard that Chang, a Cambridgeshire Police officer, had been due to go to Peterborough Magistrates Court on March 30 last year to help ensure that a defendant was not given bail.

But he was running late and the court heard that he had put on his blue lights before causing a collision, crashing into barriers as he pulled in front of a white van at the last minute to exit a slip road.

Prosecuting barrister Andy Peet said: "At 9.25 at Stilton on the A1 you were in the outside lane pegging it at 120mph. At 9.23am you had telephoned DS Grant when you should've been driving.

"Fourteen seconds before the first impact you were doing 98mph. Ten seconds before you were doing 100mph.

"You're moving between lanes with cars around you trying to decide how to were going to approach getting past them.

"At no point did you brake. At no point did it cross your mind to slow down."

At this point Chang decided to make another telephone call and just three seconds later he hit a crash barrier.

Mr Peet said that Chang had been distracted while attempting to make the call.

The court heard he had told a woman involved in the crash that he was a police officer and that he would 'call it in', but he did not do so and continued his journey to court. The woman called an ambulance but not the police.

Chang had then stopped his car at the roadside to call his supervising officer at Thorpe Wood Police Station but did not tell her about the collision. It was only after he had driven to court and the hearing was finished that he told her what had happened. This was despite the fact he had sent his boss a skype message at 9.50am telling her he had arrived at court in time for the case.

Mr Peet said: "Why didn't you tell her? 'Boss, I'm not going to make it to court, I've just had a really appalling crash, send someone out to help me.'

Chang replied: "My frame of mind at that time as I said in my interview I was not thinking of the.. collision, I was still driven with my further goal to get to court."

"You concealed the fact you'd been involved in a really large impact," said Mr Peet.

"Concealed is a strong term," said Chang.

The crash was eventually called into the force control room, and DS Grant tried to contact Chang on his mobile.

Mr Peet said: "You had a conversation with DS Grant when you got back to the police station didn't you? You said to her 'I apologise' and said 'I know I shouldn't have been on blue lights. I know that being late for court is not a justification.'"

Just over two weeks after the driving incident, Chang was then caught illegally discharging his police-issued PAVA spray at Kettering Tesco filling station in Carina Road.

Chang discharged his incapacitant spray on a member of the public who he suspected of committing an offence at 7.45pm on April 15 last year. But after an investigation it turned out that the member of the public had not committed any offences.

At a previous crown court appearance Chang had pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm (PAVA is classed as a firearm).

Yesterday he was sentenced by His Honour Judge Rupert Mayo to six months in jail for dangerous driving and ten months in jail for possession of a firearm. The sentence is suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to pay £5,300 fine and costs, and disqualified from driving for 14 months.

In a brief statement which did not contain a detailed explanation of either offence, Cambridgeshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Jane Gyford said: “DC Chang’s actions on these two occasions were completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It is right that DC Chang has been held to account for his actions. He will now face gross misconduct proceedings.”

Chang has been suspended from duty.