A CAREER criminal who tried to flee the scene of a lorry theft by driving the wrong way down the A12 has been slammed behind bars.

Ian Beeson, of Churchill Court, Dovercourt, appeared before Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday where he was sentenced for theft, dangerous driving, driving a car without insurance, and driving a car without a licence.

The offences took place on July 6, 2020.

It was then that Beeson, 52, used a screwdriver to slash a lorry curtain so he could steal boxes of toys from a delivery truck parked in Chelmsford.

After loading the boxes into his Renault Clio, Beeson then returned to the lorry to continue his spree.

After the lorry driver called 999, the police began their pursuit of Beeson, who tried to avoid arrest by driving the wrong way down the A12 whilst a car and HGV swerved out of the way to avoid a collision.

Police then deployed a police helicopter to track Beeson, who bailed from his Renault and tried to hide in undergrowth at the side of the road before he was caught by police.

Judge Richard Wilkin, who oversaw Beeson’s sentencing, heard how Beeson – who has never held a driving licence – initially denied the offences and continued to do so until the day he was due to stand trial.

The defending barrister asked judge Wilkin to impose a suspended sentence because of Beeson’s care commitments for his daughter, who has mental health problems.

But the judge dismissed the mitigating factors, citing Beeson’s 57 previous convictions and poor engagement with community orders as reason a jail sentence.

He said: “This was a case of dangerous driving involving a dangerous manoeuvre, and the offence was committed in the course of evading police.

“You have expressed some remorse but that rings hollow given you denied the charges for such a long time.

“Only an immediate custodial sentence is warranted – I have no faith you will abide by that sentence or any requirements I impose.”

Beeson will serve half of his 50-week prison sentence and has been disqualified from obtaining a driving licence for two-and-a-half years.