'Lunatic' driver took police on ten-mile 100mph chase around Wellingborough after being stopped over broken tail light
The 'red mist came down' after he was stopped
A Wellingborough man drove ten miles being chased by police cars and a helicopter, through red lights and the wrong way round roundabouts after officers pulled him over because he had a faulty tail light.
Connor Lawrence drove his black Vauxhall at speeds of up to 100mph on the pursuit through Wellingborough, Mears Ashby, Great Doddington and Earls Barton before returning to the town where he drove on a pavement to avoid a police stinger before being boxed in by officers.
Lawrence said he had simply 'panicked' as he did not have a driving licence but already had eight points. So he took off with two passengers instead of stopping for police who pulled him over after spotting a broken light and his driving speed in July last year.
The prosecutor in the case said even he was struggling to understand why a man with no convictions and of previous good character had driven 'in such an appalling manner'.
And the judge who decided against a prison sentence for the 21-year-old of Windsor Road, Wellingborough, accepted that there would be many people who 'thought him a fool' for not imposing an immediate custodial sentence.
Prosecuting, Andy Peet said: "The car was seen to be travelling a little bit too quickly with a defective tail light. The police followed him and the red mist came down and he drove off like a lunatic."
Lawrence drove at 80ph in Niort Way, at 70mph along Kingsway and at speeds of up to 100mph through Earls Barton's 30mph roads.
"He went the wrong way around two roundabouts," added Mr Peet, "and through red lights."
Lawrence immediately made admissions of guilt in interview.
In mitigation, the court heard how Lawrence had a young daughter who had been very poorly, for whom he paid maintenance and saw regularly.
He had left school aged just 12 but had begun buying cars before doing them up and selling them on. The court was told he had 'panicked' when he saw the police because he knew he had no licence, no insurance and once he had started driving he 'didn't know what to do.'
He said he 'feels terrible' and 'deeply regrets his actions'.
Handing down Lawrence's sentence, Recorder Michael Auty QC said: "What on earth do you think might so easily have happened to the young daughters or sons of other people if you had hit them in that car?
"This was an absurd and outrageous piece of driving.
"You had two other people in the car with you. You might have killed them. It was a lengthy, high speed pursuit, and for what? Because you were at risk of being disqualified from driving, for which you did not have a licence or insurance?
"Speeds of up to 70, 80, 90 MPH plus, in residential areas. You chose to play Russian roulette with the lives of people that you had no right to treat in that way.
"This type of dangerous driving crosses the custodial threshold by some considerable distance."
Recorder Auty said that the maximum sentence he could pass would be two years if Lawrence had had previous convictions, but that would be reduced because of the guilty plea and his previous good character.
He added: "Being realistic, the longest sentence would be something in the order of 12 months.
"You really deserve that and when I came into court earlier today I was in no doubt that I thought it was inevitable.
"There will be many who think me a fool for the course I am about to take with you.
"My fear, frankly, is that if I sentence you to 12 months in prison, you will come out in six months' time with no job, no secure home and no doubt with a new group of associates who are likely to exploit your vulnerability.. and the risk of you doing something like this again, or worse, would increase.
"I feel like I've a gun to my head because this deserves prison.
"I have to consider what will best protect the public from you in the future."
Lawrence was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to complete the maximum of 300 hours of unpaid work including 20 days of rehabilitation. He was disqualified from driving for three years and was ordered to take an extended retest.