A MARK man has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after he crashed a stolen van during a police chase.

Barry Veysey, 52, brought Highbridge town centre to a standstill back in May when several police cars blocked him from leaving in Market Street.

Veysey, who had already been banned from driving, then rammed a police patrol vehicle in an attempt to get out.

He had stolen a white Citroen van from a farm near the M5 on April 26 and on May 8 it was identified by a vehicle number recognition device in the Highbridge area.

Veysey, of Kingsway, was charged with aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and failing to stop.

He denied the charges but was found guilty following a trial at Taunton Crown court. He was sentenced in his absence at Exeter Crown Court after refusing to leave Exeter Prison.

The court also gave him a two year driving ban and he will be required to carry out an extended driving test before driving again.

He had been disqualified from driving for two years in 2005 until he passed an extended test.

Sgt Ian Kennett, based at Burnham Police Station, said: “This [conviction] was a direct result of a number plate recognition hit on a camera which was being monitored by the police and Sedgemoor District Council.

“This was an excellent example of co-operation between the police and their partner agencies which resulted in a repeat offender being given a custodial sentence. It reinforces the message that crime doesn't pay.”