Teenager jailed for 'worst example of dangerous driving'
- Credit: Suffolk police
A teenage driver who led police on a high-speed chase through the streets of Ipswich while only holding a provisional licence has been jailed.
Sentencing Michael Garnham, 19, to six months in prison at Suffolk Magistrates' Court, Colin Reeve, chair of the bench, told him: "I have been a magistrate for 30 years and this is the worst example of dangerous driving I have ever dealt with."
The court heard how Garnham was behind the wheel of an Audi A6 on February 23 this year when just after 11am police instructed the car to stop when checks revealed he was not insured.
Officers activated their blue lights but Garnham failed to stop and a police pursuit began, Lesla Small, prosecuting, told magistrates.
Police said the Audi "accelerated harshly" along Commercial Road, undertaking another vehicle and going through a red light on Princes Street, Ms Small said.
A bus was forced to take evasive action at traffic lights to avoid a crash with the Audi, the court heard.
The car continued along West End Road and after being slowed down by traffic, the Audi moved onto the wrong side of the road.
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The Audi took a right-hand bend on the wrong side of the road and was driving at speeds in excess of 60mph in a 30mph zone.
The vehicle reached the Yarmouth Road/London Road junction and Garnham braked at the red lights but continued through - colliding with another vehicle.
The Audi came to a stop and Garnham climbed out of the passenger side of the car after the driver's seat airbag deployed.
He then fled the scene on foot, running towards the nearby Sainsbury's, Ms Small said.
Officers followed gave chase on foot and security guards at Sainsbury's were able to locate Garnham and hand him over to police.
Garnham, of Edgeworth Road, Ipswich, previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence, driving without insurance, failing to stop for police and failing to stop following an accident.
The court heard a victim impact statement from the woman whose car was hit by Garnham.
She said the car was written off and described how the crash had affected her psychologically.
Kemi Rufai, representing Garnham, said her client had a lack of maturity and "simply panicked" when he realised the police wanted him to stop.
She said Garnham had "learnt his lesson" and was keen to return to college to continue with a course in mechanics.
But magistrates felt the offence was so serious, it crossed the custody threshold and sentenced him to six months in prison on Tuesday.
He must also pay £1,000 in compensation to the victim of the crash and was banned from driving for two years and three months.