IT was a reckless piece of driving that put countless lives at risk.
Motorists were forced to swerve out of the way as a stolen BMW was raced through the streets of Hampshire, dodging oncoming traffic and hurtling past those in front at break-neck speed.
Pursued by police, driver James Poole put his foot down to shake them off – jumping red lights and speeding along the wrong side of the road.
The eight-mile chase came to an end only when 20-year-old Poole crashed into a school bus which had stopped at traffic lights, having failed to squeeze between it and an oncoming lorry.
The entire drama was captured on camera inside a police patrol car, Southampton Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Edward Phillips told how PC Mark Bailey was driving an unmarked police vehicle southbound on the M3 just north of Winchester when he spotted a grey BMW undertaking another car.
Video footage Video footage played to the court showed Poole then returning to the outside lane before undercutting other vehicles.
The officer then turned on his blue lights and sirens – but Poole ignored it and carried on, accelerating and reaching speeds of up to 90mph before careering off the motorway at Winchester and hurtling down the B3335 Twyford Road.
In the car, PC Bailey’s colleague PC Tony Flatman maintained a running commentary to the police control room as Poole made no attempt to slow down. Instead, the court was told, he continued to overtake vehicles at speed and once crossed double white lines on a blind bend, miraculously not hitting anything coming from the other direction.
In Twyford, he jumped the village traffic lights at 60mph where police were forced to slow down. As they tried to catch up again, Poole continued overtaking other vehicles on the wrong side of the road, well in excess of the speed limit.
The court was told how he ignored ‘keep left’ bollards and forced oncoming motorists to pull over to avoid a crash. The pursuit finally ended when Poole tried to squeeze between stationary cars and oncoming traffic at the lights at the Fishers Pond junction before crashing into the bus.
His passengers ran off but Poole was arrested sitting in the driver’s seat.
Charges Poole, 20, of no fixed abode, admitted driving the taken car, driving dangerously, without insurance and a licence.
He also admitted stealing another BMW on a separate occasion.
Jailing him for 22 months and imposing a three-year driving ban, Recorder Nigel Lickley QC told Poole he had acted with complete disregard for the safety of other drivers and his passengers.
He said: “This case clearly crosses the custody threshold and a suspended sentence is not appropriate. You were very fortunate nobody was seriously injured.”
In mitigation, Nichola Attwood said Poole had reached a crossroads in his life and realised he had to change his ways.