A DANGEROUS driver who led police on a high-speed chase smashed a parked car 20 metres down the road and then ploughed into a police car.

A police officer was left injured after the crash, which took place following a hair-raising chase instigated by 20-year-old Michael Thorpe.

Georgia Beatty, prosecuting at Chelmsford Crown Court, told of how Thorpe, of New Park, Castle Hedingham, fled the police on two occasions in September last year.

On September 19, patrolling officers noticed Thorpe in a black Audi in a Tesco car park in Great Notley.

After learning he was not the registered keeper of the vehicle, Officers pulled up behind the car and ran some checks.

Thorpe pulled out of the parking space, striking a mini roundabout as he drove off at high speed.

Just days later, on September 22, officers were on patrol when an Audi, driven by Thorpe with two passengers in the car, activated an automatic number plate recognition camera.

Officers spotted the car in High Garrett, Braintree, and followed for a short distance.

As the Audi neared a roundabout, officers in another police car activated their blue lights.

Thorpe moved into the offside lane and accelerated, mounting a traffic island and driving the wrong way around a roundabout.

As he drove along Broad Road towards Braintree town, pursuing officers passed a 30mph road sign.

Ms Beatty said: “He himself was doing 70mph at the time and observed the vehicle he was pursuing must have been doing greatly in excess of that because he accelerated at such speed he lost sight of the vehicle.”

Officers continued to search for the Audi and later that evening spotted it driving along Panfield Lane, Braintree.

The officer positioned his car to prevent the Audi from passing, but Thorpe drove deliberately into the front of the police car.

Reversing at speed, Thorpe turned into Churchill Terrace and smashed into a parked car, hitting it at such force it was pushed 20 meters down the road.

Thorpe again drove at the police car, smashing into it with enough force to deploy the airbags and causing injuries to the officer.

A short foot-chase followed before Thorpe was arrested and hauled into custody.

He later admitted dangerous driving, failing to stop when directed by a police officers and failing to stop after an accident.

James Wing, mitigating, said references had been provided from Thorpe’s mother, his pregnant partner and his employer.

He said: “All the available evidence points to Mr Thorpe having suffered a prolonged and profound mental health crisis in the weeks leading up to this course of appalling driving.”

The court heard Thorpe’s partner had explained how in the run up to the two incidents, he began to suffer “the beginnings of a crisis.”

“He was unable to sleep for more than three hours at a time,” said Mr Wing.

“He stopped washing, he stopped behaving in any normal way.

“His mother confirms that, his employer confirms that as well.”

He added: “It would be a terrible shame and a terrible waste, despite the seriousness of his offending, to give him a sentence of immediate imprisonment, when he was not himself when he committed this offence.

“It would be a further waste of such a promising life.”

Thorpe was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and banned from driving for 18 months. He must complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 180 hours of unpaid work.

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