A driver high on cannabis pretended to stop for police before swerving sharply and speeding off.
Zaki Daudo was driving a rented BMW, carrying three of his friends, at 95mph on the southbound carriageway of the M1 near Watford Gap services when a police officer tried to pull him over for speeding.
He tried to flee, and during the resulting pursuit, the 29-year-old, of Wilson Street, Spinney Hills, Leicester, sped through two red lights and almost caused a collision during the crime, which happened on April 30 last year.
He only gave up trying to escape the police after losing control of the car and nearly crashing.
When he was arrested and asked what the purpose of his trip was, he laughed and replied he was exercising with his friends. He was given an on-the-spot fine for breaching lockdown.
Daudo appeared at Leicester Crown Court on Tuesday for sentencing having admitted dangerous driving and driving while under the influence of drugs.
Prosecutor Lucia Harrington described how the police officer first spotted Daudo’s vehicle and, after following him for a while, moved in front of the BMW and flashed the rear sign in the back of his unmarked police car which states: “Follow me.”
The officer got in the left lane to leave the motorway at junction 16 and Daudo followed behind him up until the junction. But when the option of moving legally back onto the motorway had passed, Daudo swerved across the solid line and back onto the M1.
Unable to safely follow him, the officer radioed for colleagues to track and follow the BMW, and it was picked up again on the A45 heading at speed towards Northampton.
As a second police car caught up with Daudo, he was seen quickly switching between lanes and undertaking other vehicles on the dual carriageway.
After spotting the police, Daudo accelated and was chased by the police car, which had its sirens and blue lights on.
Miss Harrington said: “He left the A45. At a roundabout the defendant went through a red light, causing another driver to have to brake to avoid a collision.
“He went back onto the A45 again and drove to the Brackmills junction where he went through another red light, lost control and skidded.”
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After nearly crashing, Daudo chose to pull the car over and was arrested.
Miss Harrington said: “He was asked why he was out. He laughed and said he was out for exercise with his friends.”
At first he told police he did not realise the unmarked police car had been trying to stop him.
He then claimed he failed to stop because he was scared.
Then, at a nearby police station, where he tested postive for cannabis, he gave “no comment” answers during an interview.
James Armstrong-Holmes, representing Daudo, said: “It was a relatively short-lived incident and not in a built-up area.
“Having panicked and made off, he eventually came to his senses.”
Recorder William Harbage QC, sentencing Daudo, said the speed, manner of driving, cannabis and the fact that Daudo had three passengers in his car all made the offence more serious.
He said: “Your driving was extremely dangerous and completely unnecessary.
“You had passengers in your car when you were driving in this dangerous manner and you put them at risk. Clearly a custodial sentence is called for.”
But he said the fact it was Daudo’s first motoring offence, and the severe situations in prisons due to the pandemic, meant he was not going to jail him.
Recorder Harbage sentenced him to six months in prison, suspended for two years.
He also ordered Daudo to do 150 hours of unpaid work, attend a probation Thinking Skills programme and take part in 10 further days of probation work.
Daudo was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.