Jail for Burnley man who took girlfriend hostage in M65 140mph terror trip

JAILED: Anthony Ward (s)
JAILED: Anthony Ward (s)

A BURNLEY man took his girlfriend prisoner during a terrifying 140 m.p.h. car journey while she begged to be freed.

Anthony Ward (26) who was on bail for trying to push victim Sarah Watson out of a vehicle on the M65 and attacking her, ended up being followed by police after a pedestrian heard Ms Watson shouting: “Let me out,” in Ridge Road, Burnley.

Burnley Crown Court was told how the victim had written “Help” on a piece of paper, and held it up as Ward sped down the motorway and, after he ripped it up, she then scrawled a plea for help on the windscreen.

The hearing was told when the defendant was stopped and was spoken to by police about Ms Watson’s two-hour ordeal, he told them: “I don’t know what you are talking about, I have got bail conditions not to go near her.”

Ward, from Burnley, but of no fixed address, was jailed for 18 months, after admitting false imprisonment and dangerous driving, on October 5th last year. He was banned from driving for two years and ordered to take an extended driving test.

He was also made subject to a five-year restraining order, to keep him away from the victim, and her home.

Miss Natalia Cornwall (prosecuting) said the defendant and Ms Watson had had an 18-month volatile relationship.

They argued, she left the house even though Ward tried to stop her, and went to a bus stop.

The defendant pulled up, and screamed at her to get in. She refused, but then felt she had no option, as Ward was abusive.

Miss Cornwall said Ward sped off, and when the victim told him to slow down, he told her: “I’m doing it because it scares you.”

The defendant went on the M65 to Preston, reaching up to 140 m.p.h., overtaking and undertaking, and then headed back to Burnley.

Ward took Ms Watson’s phone, and when she told him she had texted a friend to tell her to contact the police, he gave it back to her.

The defendant refused to take Ms Ward to her friend’s home, and continued to scream at her.

Ward was eventually stopped by the police in Burnley and was arrested, but claimed Ms Watson was lying to build up the assault case against him.

The defendant had two convictions for battery, one against Ms Watson, and one against a previous partner.

Mr Patrick Thompson (defending) said Ward was not driving at 140 m.p.h., as his Vauxhall Vectra could only do 124 m.p.h.

The defendant, who had been on remand for 50 days, did not respond appropriately, or well when faced with domestic difficulties.

The barrister added: “He’s very anxious to put all this behind him. He’s very anxious to sort himself out.

“Clearly, there is a problem with his anger in domestic situations. Clearly, there is a problem with him taking cannabis.”

Sentencing, Judge Beverly Lunt said that, emotionally, Ward had been in no fit state to drive that day, and his behaviour had been aggressive and erratic.

She said the incident must have been “nothing short of terrifying” for the victim, although she added: “I cannot understand why she ever got in the car. It defies common sense.”

Judge Lunt told Ward: “There is obviously a significant risk of you re-offending violently towards future partners. It’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise.”