A BUNGLING joyrider led police on one of the most dawdling pursuits in history after trying to make a low-speed getaway in a tractor stolen from a Weald village.
John Davis, 23, attempted to outrun officers in a vehicle which boasts a top speed of just 30mph, before veering off the main road and crashing through a gate and electric fence and coming to a rest against a railway line.
It brought to an end an 18-mile illegal trundle through the Weald, for which Davis was this week punished by magistrates.
Prosecutor James Nichols said: "Police tried to stop the tractor, but the driver refused and continued to drive off."
Davis told Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court he had been pressured by friends into stealing the red five-year-old Massey Ferguson tractor on November 17 and to not give himself up to police.
He duly obliged and stole the machine from a yard in Rye Road, Newenden, close to the junction with Lossenham Lane.
The theft triggered the tractor's tracking device and the alarm company alerted the owner, who arrived to find it gone.
He rang police and shortly afterwards there were reports of a sighting in Maidstone Road, Paddock Wood.
Officers easily caught up with Davis but he ignored their siren and refused to pull over.
He sped up before eventually mounting the verge and crashing through a five-bar gate and then an electric fence.
It was only the railway line that brought the chase to an end at 8.15pm. The tractor suffered damage to the rear lamp and a reflector.
Defending Davis, who lives in Tilmanstone, near Deal, on Friday, Andrew Main blamed others for making his client steal the tractor.
"He would not have done this without threats made to him," said Mr Main.
"He felt he had no alternative at the time. Perhaps there were other avenues if he stopped to think about it before acting."
Davis, who works at a ground work company, had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to aggravated vehicle taking and damaging the vehicle.
On passing sentence, chairman of the bench Jeff Owen ordered Davis to pay a total of £750 – £500 to repair the tractor and £250 in prosecution costs – and told him to carry out 220 hours of unpaid work. He was also given a year's driving ban.