A dangerous driver who sparked a high-speed police chase which could have cost lives has walked free from court.
Sarfraz Ahmed (20) had gone on the wrong side on the road through Nelson and Burnley town centres at twice the speed limit and shot round a roundabout the wrong way.
Another motorist coming the other way had to quickly reverse to avoid a head-on smash in a Burnley street as Ahmed, who had driven without lights for part of the early morning “spree” put his foot down between the town and Nelson.
Burnley Crown Court was told how the 11 minute, seven mile pursuit was filmed by the police in the vehicles trying to stop Ahmed and the police helicopter was scrambled to trail him.
The force incident commander eventually gave orders to abandon the pursuit as it was not safe to continue. Ahmed was finally forced to pull over when the Volkswagen he was at the wheel of gave up on him.
The court heard the defendant was then chased on foot by police and had to be handcuffed. The incident had started after Ahmed lied to the vehicle’s owner, a workmate, to get him to lend him his vehicle. The defendant, who had three passengers on board, was not insured, had never passed a driving test and didn’t have a licence.
Ahmed, of Beaufort Street, Nelson, admitted dangerous driving, no insurance, no licence and failing to stop, on February 1st. He was spared immediate jail by a judge who described the incident as “appalling and quite shocking” – and said the defendant could easily have killed somebody or himself.
Ahmed received 27 weeks in a young offenders’ institution, suspended for 18 months, with 180 hours unpaid work.
He was also banned for a year, must take an extended driving test and was ordered to pay £250 costs.
Prosecutor Roger Brown said at about 11-30pm on January 31st, Ahmed turned up at the home of a friend and told him his own car had broken down, he needed to get back to it and was waiting for a recovery vehicle.
At just after 6am, a police inspector was approaching a junction in Burnley, when the Volkswagen pulled out of a side road through red traffic lights, causing a taxi in front of the officer to have to brake to avoid a crash.
Ahmed had turned onto 30 mph Westgate, the officer caught up with him at that point and the defendant, travelling at 40mph, then went onto Active Way and Princess Way and accelerated to 50mph as he turned right into Brougham Street, which has a chicane as a traffic calming system. The first part of the pursuit lasted five minutes.
Mr Brown said the six-minute, second part of the chase was also caught on film.
Mr Brown said Ahmed went through Reedley at about 50mph and then through Brierfield on the wrong side of the road. Ahmed travelled round a roundabout the wrong way and approached Nelson centre along 30mph Manchester Road at 68mph, again on the wrong carriageway.
Ahmed continued into the centre of Nelson at about 70mph and police lost sight of him briefly.
Judge Ian Leeming, QC, said: “There’s no damage or personal injury. If there were it might be years in custody.”