A SPEEDING driver who led police on a high-speed chase before he was finally rammed off the road has dodged jail. 

Shane Rolfe, 31, who has one previous conviction for dangerous driving, said ‘I’m sorry. I’m so stupid’ when officers pulled him from the Volkswagen Golf he was driving.

His arrest followed a high-speed chase through Stanway, which began when officers signalled for him to pull over.

Rolfe, of Viscount Drive, Highwoods, Colchester, was flagged up for driving without insurance and said he “panicked” when police started following him.

Ipswich Crown Court heard Rolfe, a builder working in Colchester, was late for work on the day of the chase and got behind the wheel without a full licence or insurance.

At times during the ensuing chase, Rolfe reached double the speed limit, screeching down roads with a 30mph limit at 60mph.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said the fleeing driver twice narrowly avoided head-on collisions with cars as he careered down narrow residential roads.

Police finally made “tactical contact” with the car, cutting the chase short and allowing officers to arrest the apologetic driver.

Paul Donegan, mitigating, described Rolfe as a reformed family man, who had stayed out of trouble for nine years.

Rolfe has 14 previous convictions for 26 offences, the court heard.

Mr Donegan said: “As you have heard, he admitted wrongdoing at the roadside as soon as officers detained him.

“He says I’m sorry to the officers immediately and confirms that remorse in interview.

“In his younger days he was badly behaved, until about nine years ago.

“He stopped that behaviour, coinciding with him meeting his wife with whom he has five children.

“She already has three children and he took those children on.

“Alas the relationship came to an end in 2016 and he has weekend contact with his five children. He financially supports the family and continues to do so.”

He added: “He takes his responsibilities extremely seriously. Under a normal course of events his employer would collect him from home and take him to work, then take him back home.

“On this occasion he wasn’t able to do so. Instead of making that call to his employer and saying ‘Sorry, I can’t come in’, as he should have, he drove.

“He drove that day and that day only. He asks as a mercy to him and those he supports he be given an opportunity to demonstrate his ability to be rehabilitated.

“He is concerned about the prospect of a loss of his liberty, not for himself but for his family.”

Judge David Goodin described Rolfe’s actions as “astonishing” and “lunacy”, but stopped short of sending Rolfe straight to prison.

He was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment for dangerous driving, suspended for two years.

Rolfe, who wept in the dock as the sentence was read out, was banned from the roads for a year.

He was handed a curfew and must remain at his mother’s address between the hours of 9pm and 6am every day for the next eight weeks.

Sentencing Rolfe, Judge Goodin said: “This lunatic decision to drive, compounded by the astonishing decision when you knew you were rumbled to drive as you did with the police in pursuit has unsurprisingly brought you straight to the prison gates at the age of 31.

“Having avoided any offending for a number of years, with a constructive family life and working life, a series of lunatic decisions on this day placed all that at risk.

“There was no serious injury, no-one was hurt.

“But this is plainly so serious it can only be met with a prison sentence.

“It is a sentence, Mr Donegan has persuaded me, I could suspend subject to conditions, and I will, to enable you to be a father to your children and to enable you to continue in your employment.

“If you had been convicted by a jury this would have merited a sentence of 21 months imprisonment for dangerous driving.”

Rolfe must also pay £360 in court costs and complete a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement.