Weston driver avoids jail after leading police on 90mph chase

The driver was given a suspended sentence at Warwick Crown Court
The driver was given a suspended sentence at Warwick Crown Court

A young driver who drove the wrong way round a town’s gyratory system in a bid to escape from the police following a 90mph chase has avoided going to jail.

Dominic Odell, 20, of St Michaels Close, Weston under Wetherley, who only stopped after turning into a dead end, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and having no licence.

But even though his driving could have had ‘catastrophic’ results, he was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to take part in a Thinking Skills programme.

Recorder Anupama Thompson also ordered him to take part in a rehabilitation activity and to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, and banned him from driving for 12 months.

Prosecutor Peter Grice said that at 8.40 in the evening on Sunday December 9 last year, the police saw a black Fiesta heading along Kenilworth Road towards Leamington.

They followed it for a short distance to check on Odell’s driving, and were about to head off when they realised the Fiesta, which had three female passengers, had disappeared at speed.

So they drove round the area and after they came across it again they followed it into Lillington Road where it went the wrong way along a roundabout filter lane into Cubbington Road.

And because of the danger to other road-users, the officers were instructed to abandon their pursuit.

About an hour later the Fiesta was seen again in the Warwick area, and officers followed it to the Longbridge island where they pulled up alongside it as Odell slowed to a near stop at red traffic lights.

But as the lights changed to green and they tried to pull in front of the Fiesta, it made contact with the off-side of their vehicle and sped away towards Stratford.

With the police in pursuit, Odell reached 85-90mph along the A46, which has a 70mph limit, and then continued at 90 along Warwick Road, which has a 50 limit, as he headed to Stratford.

On entering the town, he went the wrong way round the gyratory system, but fortunately traffic was light at that time and there was nothing coming the opposite way.

He went through a ‘no entry’ sign and over a kerb into Waterside and then into Mill Lane, which comes to a dead end where he collided with a wall, got out and made off on foot.

But the officers gave chase, and he stopped after being threatened with a Taser, added Mr Grice.

Colin Charvill, defending, said: “When he’s originally seen, they have no complaint about his driving, but begin to follow because there were four people in the car and they wanted to see what his driving was like.

“He didn’t realise the police had an interest in him at that point, but when the girls in the car told him, he panicked and drove up the filter road the wrong way.

“An hour later in Warwick he is observing the speed limit and observing traffic lights. It’s after that that there is contact between his vehicle and the police vehicle, and it’s at this point he panics and drives off at speed.

“In Stratford he stops and opens the door, and the police vehicle takes the door off and goes over his foot, taking his shoe off, and he runs off with only one shoe,” said Mr Charvill.

Recorder Thompson told Odell: “I accept there was nothing about your driving which caused them initially to be concerned, but when they made a u-turn they became aware you had driven off.

“You were seen an hour later in the Warwick area, and when an officer tried to get in front of your vehicle to stop it, a collision occurred and you drove off.

“You were doing 90mph in a 50 area, and you entered Stratford town centre and proceeded to drive the wrong way round the gyratory system.

“It seems to me that, while fortunately there were no other vehicles on the road at the time, there seems to be a failure on your part to appreciate the risk you posed.

“Driving the wrong way round a gyratory system in a town centre could have been catastrophic. The risk you presented to other road-users means this offence passes the custody threshold.”

But she added that even though there were issues over Odell complying with a community order he was subject to, she would suspend the sentence.