Violent Sunderland carjacker jailed after careless road rampage

Atkinson threatened to stab a woman unless she handed over the keys to her car.

A man who jacked a car before going on to drive at three times the legal speed limit through red lights in Sunderland has been jailed.

Disqualified Connor Atkinson has been handed a lengthy prison term and banned from the roads until 2030 after endangering the lives of others back in June.

Atkinson, 21, loitered in a car park in Sunderland at around 11 pm before threatening to stab a woman unless she handed over her keys. He then sped off in her car, later leading officers on a high-speed pursuit where he reached up to 90mph through residential areas.

After jumping another red light, while on the wrong side of the road, Atkinson crashed into the side of another car – injuring the driver – before making a final bid for freedom on foot. Atkinson, of Aberdeen Tower, Sunderland, was quickly detained nearby and later pleaded guilty to a string of offences including dangerous driving, robbery and driving while disqualified.

On Thursday (November 24), he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court and was jailed for four years with an extended licence period of a further two years. He was also banned from driving for seven-and-a-half years.

Detective Constable Laura Branch, of Northumbria Police, said: “There is absolutely no excuse for Atkinson’s level of offending and I am pleased that the seriousness of his crimes have been reflected with this sentence. He showed a total disregard for his victim, who was left terrified after he threatened violence unless she handed over her keys.

“He then proceeded to swap the registration plates with ones that had been stolen in a bid to disguise his deception. After rousing further suspicion and being followed by police, Atkinson then endangered the lives of other road users as he drove 68mph in a 20mph zone and up to 90mph in a 30mph limit – as well as going the wrong way around two roundabouts and jumping a series of red lights.

Connor Atkinson

“His irresponsible and dangerous behaviour behind the wheel left another driver injured – with both cars written off. Quite simply, it was a miracle that nobody died as a result of his actions. I would like to thank his victims for their cooperation and patience throughout this case, as well as the team of officers who showed outstanding dedication to track Atkinson and ensure he was brought to justice.

Det Con Branch added: “We all have a responsibility to drive in a careful and respectful manner in order to protect other road users. Atkinson showed he cannot be trusted to live in a lawful society and I sincerely hope he spends this period in jail to think carefully about how his actions can adversely affect others.”

Atkinson now begins a custodial term after pleading guilty to robbery, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, theft of number plates, attempted theft of another set of number plates and driving without insurance.