A railway apprentice jailed in 2019 for ‘obliterating’ a phone box and putting a taxi driver in hospital asked for his driving ban to be lifted early – so he could get back on the right track.

Harry Rowe, then 19, was sent down for 16 months in 2019 for an 80mph police chase through central Oxford on Christmas Eve 2018 that ended when his Nissan Leaf ploughed into a phone box in Headington and hit a taxi, leaving the cab driver with broken bones.

READ MORE: Christmas Eve crash that destroyed Oxford phone box: driver jailed

Jailing him two years ago and banning him from the roads for more than three-and-a-half years, Judge Maria Lamb said: “The photographs of the aftermath are horrifying. People had to be cut out of the vehicle.

"Your driving had the potential to maim, if not worse, other road users [and] other pedestrians who were undoubtedly scared.”

On Friday, he was back before Oxford Crown Court to ask for his driving disqualification to be lifted early.

Rowe, of Swanshurst Lane, Birmingham, first made the application last year but was told that, because the ban was extended to cover the time he was expected to spend in a young offender’s institution, the judge had no power to lift the disqualification until Thursday, May 12.

Appearing before Judge Ian Pringle QC the following day – Friday – smartly-dressed Rowe politely explained that his application was ‘to do with work’.

“Since I’ve come out of prison I’ve started a level three apprenticeship on the railway and the work can sometimes be quite remote, staying in hotels, getting to different sites,” he said.

Being able to drive himself to the remote work sites would ‘really be a big help’, he added. Currently, he was having to get lifts with colleagues.

Judge Pringle summarised: “It is to try and advance yourself in your employment, which is a very good apprenticeship you’ve got, and to try and get yourself on the road to greater success.”

thisisoxfordshire: Emergency crews at the scene after Harry Rowe crashed Picture: SUBMITTEDEmergency crews at the scene after Harry Rowe crashed Picture: SUBMITTED

Rowe replied: “Quite literally, your honour, yes.”

The judge allowed Rowe’s application, noting a number of character references that spoke of an entirely different man to the one who had led police on a high-speed chase.

“I am prepared to reduce your disqualification and I am prepared to say that you are no longer disqualified from driving but I do emphasise to you that you need to apply for and take the extended test so that you can have a driving licence again,” he said.

“You were young when you committed this offence. All that I’ve read about you shows that it was a one-off blip. Make sure it is.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward