A ‘DISGRACEFUL’ driver, who crashed his car and risked the lives of motorists during a high-speed police chase has narrowly avoided jail.
Ashley Luff led officers on a pursuit across Fareham which saw him speeding through residential streets, driving on the wrong side of the road, travelling in the wrong direction on a roundabout and smashing into a car with two young children in it.
The chase, on September 2 – which Portsmouth Crown Court heard reached speeds of about 50mph – began after 30-year-old Luff was spotted not wearing a seat belt in his uninsured Citroën ZX.
He had been living temporarily in the vehicle after being made homeless and was parked outside McDonald’s in Speedfields Park.
Luff, who does not have a driving licence, ‘panicked’ and accelerated from police, speeding down Newgate Lane before turning into Salterns Lane and crashing into a red Vauxhall Astra.
Luff, of Bedford Drive, Fareham, was arrested by police and pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving without a licence and without insurance.
At his sentencing, Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘You have absolutely no excuse for doing that.
‘It was a disgraceful piece of driving. It plainly crosses the custody threshold.
‘I accept that you then made a very rash decision to try and evade (the police) in panic and make a getaway.’
Defence barrister Daniel Reilly pleaded for the judge not to jail Luff.
He said Luff had just started a job at a burger van and had faced a number of family hardships.
He added a prison sentence would jeopardise the relationship the 30-year-old had with his three young children.
Judge Hetherington said he was ‘only just persuaded’ to impose a suspended sentence.
‘But that excuse will not prevent you being sent to prison on a further occasion I can assure you,’ he warned.
Luff was jailed for six months, suspended for a year, and is required to undertake a thinking skills course and 80 hours of unpaid work.
He has also been disqualified from driving for two years and will need to take an extended test.