A MAN led police on a late-night high-speed pursuit through the streets of Oxford after taking a milk van from a depot.

Opportunistic Elliott Harper leapt into the van while it was being loaded at Milk&More in Abingdon Road and drove away in the early hours of May 9.

When police located the van at around 1am, he proceeded to speed through red lights and up one-way streets in an attempt to evade capture.

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The vehicle was eventually brought to a stop near to Redbridge Hollow travellers’ site by a stinger laid across the road by officers.

Mr Harper, from Cardiff in Wales but who has been living at the travellers’ site for several years, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, driving without a licence and driving without insurance.

At Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday, prosecutor Jane Brady said: “Police located the van in Oxpens Road, where they put on their blue lights, however the vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit ensued at speed.

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Oxford Mail:

The Milk&More Depot off Abingdon Road. Picture: Google Maps

“The defendant drove through red lights, up a one-way street, and at one point a taxi had to take evasive action.”

Officers said they had reached speeds of up 50mph during the 10-minute chase.

Police guessed the defendant would be heading back to Redbridge Hollow, near to where the vehicle was originally taken, and deployed a spike strip which brought the van to a halt.

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The court heard Mr Harper had a history of offending, including a robbery in 2013 for which he received a suspended sentence.

None of Harper’s previous offending had been linked to drug taking, but reading a letter via prison videolink, he pleaded with the judge to be sent on a rehabilitation programme.

He said: “I will benefit from rehab. I really am sorry for the problems that my drug addiction has caused - your decision today will affect me for the rest of my life.”

Judge Peter Ross adjourned sentencing until a full probation report could be prepared, but questioned how the addiction had remained hidden from the courts for so long.

He warned the defendant: “You need to understand that everyone is going into this with a degree of scepticism.”

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