Car thief drove at 120mph in chase across three counties before hitting petrol tanker

PUBLISHED: 05:30 04 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:08 04 November 2020

Car thief Petra Sandu was injured after the car he stole crashed into a petrol tanker Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Car thief Petra Sandu was injured after the car he stole crashed into a petrol tanker Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

An Ipswich teenager who drove a stolen car at speeds of up to 120mph during a chase involving police officers from three counties has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Nineteen-year-old Petra Sandu, who had been using cannabis, had five passengers in the Audi during the chase along the M1 which ended after the car hit a petrol tanker on a roundabout on a slip road in Derbyshire.

Sandu injured his back in the crash and three of his passengers were also injured, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Sentencing Sandu, who was 17 at the time of the offences, Judge David Pugh said Sandu had been under the influence of cannabis at the time of the offences.

Sandu, 19, of Bulwer Road, Ipswich, admitted dangerous driving and aggravated vehicle taking.

He was given 10 months detention in a young offenders’ institution suspended for 18 months, banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.

He was also given a 20-day rehabilitation activity order, a four month curfew and ordered to pay £340 costs.

Joanne Eley, prosecuting, said the Audi was stolen from outside a house in Foxhall Road, Ipswich in the early hours of April 3 last year after the car keys were stolen from inside the property.

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After the vehicle was reported stolen its details were circulated and the Audi was spotted on the M1 by a Nottinghamshire police officer at around 6.30am.

He started to pursue the car and and during the chase that followed other officers from Derbyshire and Leicestershire were also involved.

When Sandu became aware he was being followed by two police cars with their blue lights flashing he began weaving between vehicles, crossing from one lane to the other and overtaking and undertaking.

At one stage the police cars tried to box the Audi in but it swerved to the left and accelerated away at 120 mph.

The Audi left the M1 at junction 30 and mounted a grass verge on the slip road before hitting a petrol tanker on a roundabout.

Officers who approached the Audi, which was so badly damaged that it was a write-off, found six occupants, including one person sitting on someone else’s lap.

Three of the passengers were taken to hospital with injuries including fractures.

After his arrest Sandu told police he’d been unused to the influence of cannabis.

Sasha Bailey, for Sandu, accepted the car had been driven over a long distance and it was fortunate that no-one had been more seriously hurt.

She said the offences were committed 19 months ago and Sandu had grown up since then and was in regular work.

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