England

Cheshire Police officer crashed patrol car into HQ gates

Cheshire Police HQ in Winsford Image copyright Google
Image caption Kevin Szabo drove from Ellesmere Port police station to the force's headquarters at Winsford

A policeman who crashed a patrol car through the gates of Cheshire Police HQ to confront his boss has avoided jail.

PC Kevin Szabo, 40, from Prestatyn, North Wales was an Iraq war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

He was off work with stress and depression when the incident happened on 29 January 2014.

He was given a two-year community order and 12-month supervision order and banned from driving for two years.

Szabo had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to dangerous driving.

Siren blaring

His not guilty plea to aggravated vehicle taking was accepted by the prosecution and a charge of criminal damage - for the £6,550 damage to the police car, gates and barrier - was not proceeded with.

Szabo had turned up at Ellesmere Port police station, put his uniform on and took a police patrol car, prosecutor Robert Dudley told the court.

The officer sent a text to his brother saying he was going for a "chat with the boss" - to confront his Chief Constable David Whatton - about what he felt was the lack of support he received while off work.

Mr Dudley said when other officers at the station realised he had got into the car they tried to stop him but he drove off, blue lights flashing and siren blaring.

Szabo was followed by other police cars and the force helicopter was scrambled as he drove the 25 miles to police headquarters at Winsford.

Once there, he drove the car through the closed metal gates and vehicle barrier up to the front door.

He ran into the premises and was detained by a number of officers in the canteen.

'Let down'

Szabo went off work sick in September 2013 suffering from depression and stress, the court heard.

Nicholas Walker, mitigating, said it was a "sad and troubling" case for a "valued and respected" police officer with an exemplary record.

Szabo suffered post traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq and felt he did not get support from his employers.

"He wanted to tell the chief constable how he and his colleagues were being let down," Mr Walker said.

"The defendant's marriage has also collapsed. The defendant has lost everything."

Szabo is now receiving medical help, the court heard.

Passing sentence, Judge Clement Goldstone QC said mental illness "took over", leading the defendant to hold a "wholly unjustified grudge" against his employers.

He added: "Now it appears you are on the road to recovering mental health and stability and I'm not going to do anything that will interfere with that course of action being maintained."

Szabo has been dismissed from Cheshire Police, which he joined in 2008.

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