A man who went on a rampage with a US Army truck damaging nearly a dozen vehicles following a bust-up with his partner has been jailed for two years.
Geoffrey Marshall used the two-and-half tonne truck to drive at his partner’s home – wrecking her car in the process.
The 41-year-old then drove the green flatbed truck through a roadblock, destroying three Avon and Somerset Police vehicles and damaging many other cars parked nearby – causing loss totalling £310,000.
Marshall was only arrested after police negotiators persuaded him not to jump from a bridge over the M5 motorway, Taunton Crown Court heard.
The incident began on the afternoon of September 10 with an argument between Marshall and his partner, Kathryn Marshall Lam, at their home in Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton, over text messages she found on his mobile phone.
Jack Barros, prosecuting, said that, fearing for her safety, Ms Marshall Lam left the property and called the police.
When officers arrived at their home in Station Road, they found the defendant holding a chainsaw above his head and then get behind the wheel of the 1958 M35 truck.
Police bodyworn cameras and mobile phone footage filmed by neighbours, which was shown to the court, recorded Marshall hitting police vehicles in the truck as he fled the scene.
Mr Barros said: “A police officer was inside one of the vehicles at the time and he says he was spun around by the impact of the truck hitting the vehicle.
“Understandably, he says he was absolutely petrified by what he saw happen.”
On the video, officers could be heard shouting to residents to get inside their homes as the truck came towards them and Marshall being told to stop.
The defendant drove the truck away and stopped near the M5 where he abandoned the vehicle and got onto a bridge that crosses the motorway and threatened to take his own life.
Police negotiators were able to talk him down and he was later arrested.
In a victim impact statement, one police officer said: “I have never been so scared as I have during this incident. I seriously thought I was going to be crushed and killed.”
At a previous hearing, Marshall admitted 11 charges of criminal damage, including destroying three police vehicles and his partner’s Range Rover, her iPhone, a council lamppost and four other cars.
He also admitted charges of dangerous driving and assault by beating.
Marshall, who was unrepresented, told the court in mitigation he was suffering significant mental health problems as a result of difficulties in his marriage.
He said: “During this breakdown on September 10, I never intended to harm anyone and I never intended to do any damage either.
“I am deeply ashamed of my actions on that day. My actions were out of desperation, panic and terror during this breakdown.
“There was never any malice or intention.”
Judge Edward Burgess KC passed sentences totalling two years and also banned Marshall from driving for two years.
“It is apparent to me that you are genuinely ashamed, and in your words ‘deeply ashamed’, now you reflect about how you behaved on that day,” the judge said.
“And it’s apparent to me that this shame is coupled with remorse and contrition.
“I accept that you were in a desperate state mentally and emotionally suicidal in your thinking and that caused you to act in a way which was totally out of character.
“I’m not in fact, persuaded that you intended to cause injury to anyone else.
“I do, however, think despite what you have said this afternoon, you did intend in those moments when you drove as you did, to cause very serious damage, certainly to police vehicles and indeed, it would seem to Kathryn’s Range Rover, even though that intent was subordinate to your overriding intention of getting away to a place where you could take your own life.
“The reality is the way you behaved was extremely reckless at the very least to create a very high risk of injury, if not death to others.
“It’s clear a number of police officers were understandably terrified at the harm’s way in which you were putting them.”
Detective Inspector Claire Millington said: “Through his actions Marshall caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to police vehicles, private vehicles and property.
“Some of the vehicles he damaged have been completely written off while repairs need to be made to buildings, street furniture and the motorway bridge.
“His behaviour not only affected the ability for the police to respond to emergency calls on the day in question but caused significant disruption to his neighbours and those using the motorway, which was closed for a short time.”