Man charged for careless driving on the M5, the A40 and Hatherley Lane in Cheltenham
By Court reporter | 25th November 2021
A 55 year old Forest of Dean man who led police on a dangerous high speed chase while out looking for work after his release from prison has been sent back to jail.
When police motorway patrol officers signalled banned driver Alan Lewis to pull in on the M5 near Gloucester he panicked and took off at speed - reaching more than 110mph during his bid to get away, Gloucester Crown Court was told on Wednesday (November 24).
Lewis, of the Gorse, Berry Hill, Coleford, was eventually caught after abandoning the car and trying to hide in a back garden in Abbeydale, the court was told.
Judge Ian Lawrie QC sentenced him to 58 weeks imprisonment but said that because he has already served most of that time while in custody on remand since the incident in May he will be released on parole by Christmas.
Prosecutor Nicholas Lee told the court Lewis' offences began when police patrolling the M5 just after 9pm on May 25 saw a white BMW 'drift in front of them' on the Northbound carriageway, causing them to brake.
"The officers did not take any immediate action but kept a watch on the vehicle for the next two miles and noted that it was being driven by a man wearing a high-vis jacket."
"Just before Junction 11 the police activated their lights and sirens, indicating to the driver to pull over. The BMW driver then sped off and overtook two lorries before taking the Junction 11 slip road.
"The police followed the BMW, which was now travelling towards Gloucester on the A40 at speeds in excess of 100 mph. The BMW then approached a roundabout at which other vehicles were observing the red traffic lights.
"The BMW driver went to the right of all the vehicles and onto the central reservation. He squeezed past the vehicles and performed a U-turn and began heading back along the A40.
"The police followed the vehicle when the lights changed and began catching it up with it as it entered the 40mph zone travelling at speeds of over 110mph.
"At the next roundabout the BMW turned right into a residential area, travelling at speeds in excess of 30mph and overtaking a number of other motorists. The police were concerned about these speeds and slowed down and lost the BMW from view.
"However, they continued in the same direction and in the area of Heron Close they got out of the vehicle and searched on foot.
"Meanwhile, local resident Tom Collins realised he had movement in his front garden and went to investigate and found a man wearing a high-vis jacket hiding there.
"Mr Collins briefly spoke to him before the driver walked off. Almost immediately, Mr Collins saw the police officers searching the area and indicated to them which way he had gone.
"Alan Lewis was then arrested by police, and he told them he was the driver of the vehicle. Lewis explained that he had just been released from prison and had borrowed the car to look for work.
"He also admitted that he panicked when the police activated their blue lights and sirens as he knew he was a disqualified driver."
The court was told that Lewis had 24 sets of driving convictions since 2003 and has effectively been disqualified from driving continuously since that time.
Matthew Harbinson, defending, said: "Lewis has been remanded in custody since the incident and therefore, under the sentencing guidelines, he has almost served any sentence that he receives today."
Judge Lawrie commented: "Lewis has an appalling driving record and it is only more by luck than judgement that nobody was injured during the pursuit."
Lewis pleaded guilty to careless driving on the M5, the A40 and Hatherley Lane in Cheltenham on May 25, 2021, driving whilst disqualified and having no insurance on the same occasion and criminal damage to a fence belonging to Mr Collins on May 25, 2021.
In sentencing Lewis, Judge Lawrie told him: "You've pleaded guilty to a variety of driving offences and criminal damage. It is clear that this was a calculated move by you to driving over a long period of time while being pursued by the police. Fortunately, no serious damage or injury occurred.
"Quite clearly you are not capable of learning lessons. These offences cross the custody threshold. Therefore, the prison sentence I impose is 58 weeks, which means that with time served you will be released on parole before Christmas."
The judge also disqualified Lewis from driving for 42 months and ordered that he take an extensive retest when his ban expires.
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