A TEENAGE delivery driver who sent a text while leading police on an 80mph chase has been spared jail.
Charlotte Clowes messaged a friend, ‘I’m being chased by police’, as she ignored demands to pull over in a Ford Focus Transit.
The 19-year-old, who has since lost her job, was told by judge Paul Glenn her actions ‘beggared belief’.
Clowes led police on a five-and-a-half mile pursuit after they were called to reports of a van hitting a garden wall in Stoke-on-Trent ‘where the people involved had made off’, prosecutor Joanne Wallbanks told the city’s crown court.
Police chased the van until the driver over-steered at 70mph on a sharp bend before braking and turning on the hazard lights once stopped, Ms Wallbanks added.
‘Officers were of the opinion the driver must have scared themselves,’ she said.
Judge Glenn said there was evidence to suggest ‘a male driver’ was involved in the initial collision on January 22 — but Clowes drove the van away without reporting it, which ‘in itself was stupid and irresponsible’.
He added: ‘When the police located you, you deliberately tried to avoid the consequences of your actions. A huge aggravating feature is that during the chase you composed and sent a text message. That, quite frankly, beggars belief.’
Andrew Bennett, defending, said Clowes panicked when she saw the blue lights, which was ‘out of character’.
He added: ‘The incident has badly affected her. She lost her job and fell into a depression.’
Clowes, of Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving and failing to stop following an accident.
She was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and banned from driving for two years. She must then pass an extended retest.
■ A motorcyclist so enraged to see a motorist ‘FaceTiming’ on his tablet computer at the wheel confessed he drove one-handed at 70mph to give the driver the middle finger.
The biker, known only as Andrew, said he was foolish to perform the manoeuvre but ‘reacted’ after the driver ignored him ‘honking his horn’ for over a minute.
The ‘shamed’ BMW driver sped off at over 100mph on the M25 near London Colney, Hertfordshire, claimed Andrew. ‘It’s really dangerous for everyone, he’s risking lives,’ he said.
He said that on one journey he counted 28 drivers using their mobile phones.