An ‘idiot’ driver has been jailed for treating the streets Torquay as his private race track as he fled from police in a death trap car.
Michael Jeffery bought a clapped out VW Polo for £125 and spent four hours speeding around the resort, which was packed with tourists on the first day of the summer holiday season.
The car had no rear brakes and numerous faults and the seller told him it had no MOT and was unfit to drive. He had no licence or insurance but picked up four friends and took them for a terror ride.
Police were deluged with complaints about his driving and used the force helicopter to track him down in the late afternoon.
He tried to outrun them, going at 55mph in 30mph limits, forcing pedestrians to dive out of the way to avoid his car and nearly hitting several cars before he crashed into an oncoming vehicle and leaving its 12-year-old girl passenger crying in terror.
He went through stop signs and drove so dangerously that the police gave up the pursuit at one stage, leaving the helicopter to monitor his progress.
He dropped off two women and one man in York Road before carrying on and only abandoning the car after he hit a kerb and burst a tyre.
The chase took 12 minutes and started in the centre of Torquay before he drove out through Babbacombe and St Marychurch before he stopped and ran off when he was near his home in Teignmouth Road.
Jeffery, aged 19, admitted dangerous driving.
He sobbed uncontrollably as he was jailed for six months and banned from driving for 15 months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.
He told him: “You regarded the residential streets of Torquay as your own personal racetrack, nearly colliding with other cars and ignoring instructions to stop, the rule of the road, and road signs.
“You caused pedestrians to cower for their safety and drove on regardless of other people’s safety. You hit another car and left a young girl shaken and upset.
“This was a shocking example of very irresponsible driving and it must merit an immediate custodial sentence.”
Mr William Hunter, prosecuting, said Jeffery bought the VW in Teignmouth at 12.25pm on Friday, July 21, this year and drove off despite being warned it was unroadworthy having faulty front brakes and no rear brakes.
Police launched the force helicopter after receiving numerous complaints about his driving in Torquay between 1.50pm and the start of the pursuit at 5.30pm.
It lasted 12 minutes in total, although officers broke off the chase at one point because it was too dangerous.
Jeffery was caught after abandoning the car and legging it along with his one remaining passenger.
He told police he knew the car was a death trap and said: “I’m not proud of it, I feel like an a***hole.”
Miss Katie Churcher, defending, said Jeffery is truly remorseful and realises he put others at risk.
She said he had overcome a difficult childhood to get a job as a tree surgeon and his own flat, both of which he would lose if he went to jail.