WEST CHESTER >> A Honey Brook man was sentenced Thursday for a string of crimes, including two episodes when he fled from police, leading state troopers on a car chase that reached speeds above 100 miles per hour.
The chase put not only the troopers at risk, but other motorists on the road at the time and the defendant’s then-girlfriend, who was pregnant and sitting beside him in the passenger seat. Months before, he had also tried to set off a fire alarm sprinkler at the Brandywine Hospital emergency room, according to his guilty plea.
“They build jails for people like you who do this stuff,” Common Pleas Judge William Mahon told Timothy Tylorpe Thomas as he accepted the proposed plea agreement and sentence. “Your life is a train wreck. Multiple people could have been hurt.” Taylor had admitted to using methamphetamine and marijuana at the time of one of the chase incidents, and not having an active driver’s license at the time.
Thomas, 23, pleaded guilty to twin charges of fleeing and eluding police, driving under the influence, recklessly endangering another person, leaving the scene of an accident, retail theft, and tampering with fire apparatus. He was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in Chester County Prison, followed by nine years of probation. He must also perform community service, and complete anger management counseling.
“I did what I did, and I am very sorry about it,” said Thomas, a father of two children who was living with his mother and sister at the time of his arrest. “I am going to be a changed man after this. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.”
His criminal conduct began in May, when he was at Brandywine Hospital for an undetermined injury. Witnesses said they saw him hold a lighted cigarette beneath a ceiling sprinkler unit in an attempt to set it off. When that failed, he smashed the unit with his hand, then fought with a man who was trying to stop him.
Caln police issued a warrant for his arrest following the May 28 incident.
Then on Dec. 19 in Upper Uwchlan, police received a call for a man shoplifting at the Acme grocery store on Simpson Drive in Eagle. An officer responding to the call spotted a Chevrolet Impala leaving the store parking lot whose driver matched the description of the shoplifter.
As the officer tried to pull the Impala over, the driver accelerated onto Route 100, striking another car in the process. The Impala sped way, making evasive turns, and the officer eventually lost sight of it in the traffic around the village.
Store personnel at the Acme said the suspect had attempted to steal 32 bottles of Nyquil worth about $279 without paying. Other officers eventually were able to track down a man spotted hiding in a wooded area near the store, who said that he had come to the Acme with a man he knew as “Tim,” who had dropped him off at the store. Police were able to trace the license plate of the Impala to Thomas’ address.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 21, the two state police troopers were driving north on Route 10 south of Honey Brook when they passed an Impala with a headlight out. When the troopers put on their lights and siren to stop the motorist, the driver sped away and led them on a chase.
The pursuit took the cars onto back roads, where the troopers attempted to “pit” stop the Impala as it veered into a farmers’ field. The car spun out of control, but was able to get out of the field and eventually make its way back to Route 10. The driver ran through red lights and stops signs, made its way to eastbound Route 322, and eventually was stopped in the parking lot of a golf driving range.
Thomas, who was identified as the driver, gave himself up without resistance, an said that he had fled because he thought there were warrants out for his arrest. His passenger, who was screaming and crying when police interviewed her, said she had tried to get him to stop the chase because she was afraid that her unborn child would be injured.
Thomas failed field sobriety tests at the scene. Police found drug paraphernalia including a hypodermic needle and a metal spoon, in the car.
“What kind of a life are you living in?” Mahon asked while discussing all that Thomas was pleading guilty to. “Not a good one,” he answered.
“That’s the understatement of the day,” the judge said.
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.