A DANGEROUS driver sped down the wrong side of the busy A45 dual carriageway near Rugby at over 100mph.
When the police traced a stolen Audi to Coventry man Stephen Rouse’s unit near Rugby, he sped off in the car.
And his horrendous driving continued through a village at twice the speed limit before he crashed into a hedge after going over a stinger device, a judge has heard.
Although he admitted a charge of dangerous driving, Rouse denied handling the stolen Audi Q7, a Land Rover Discovery and a Vauxhall Mokka, and possessing quantities of cannabis and cocaine.
But on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court he changed his pleas on all of those charges to guilty.
Rouse, 54, of Jasmine Place, Coventry, whose car repair business was based at a unit off the Straight Mile near Rugby, was jailed for a total of three years.
Prosecutor Ian Speed said the Audi had been stolen in a burglary in Kent at the beginning of October 2016, and a tracker device let the police to units off the Straight Mile (B4453) near Bourton on Dunsmore.
They found the Audi, which had false number plates on it, with Rouse at the wheel, and when he saw them he immediately made off towards the A45, so they set off in pursuit.
Causing ‘a real and serious risk to the public,’ Rouse went onto the wrong carriageway of the A45 dual carriageway where he drove at over 100mph, narrowly missing oncoming vehicles.
He then came off at the next roundabout and headed into the village of Stretton-on-Dunsmore, going through the centre of the village at double the 30mph speed limit.
Eventually other officers deployed a stinger device ahead of him, causing him to lose control of the Audi which crashed into a hedge, and Rouse was arrested.
Back at his unit, officers found two more stolen vehicles, a Land Rover Discovery which had been taken following a burglary at commercial premises in Exhall, and a Vauxhall Mokka which had been stolen from outside the owner’s Coventry home after he had lost the keys.
During the search, a bag was found containing a number of grip-seal bags and 14 grams of cocaine, while in a legitimate car in one of the units was a bag of cannabis weighing 28 grams.
Mr Speed said Rouse had a number of previous convictions, with offences of handling going back as far as 1987, as well as drug convictions.
In 2000 he had been jailed for a total of 13 years for possessing more than £200,000 worth of ecstasy and cocaine with intent to supply, and in 2007 he was jailed for almost 10 years for similar offences.
Mr Speed added that, although it did not show on his antecedent record, Rouse was currently serving a four-year term imposed at Edinburgh High Court in September after he and another man had been arrested in Motherwell with 135 kilos of cannabis.
David Everett, defending, pointed out that the legal system in Scotland meant that Rouse would not automatically be released after serving half of that sentence.
That would only happen if he had completed certain courses by that stage – which he was unable to do since being transferred to an English prison – so would not be eligible for release until six months before the end of the sentence.
Mr Everett said Rouse, a panel beater, had not known the Audi was stolen when he was asked to deal with some paintwork – but then realised it was when the paint he obtained based on its registration was the wrong colour.
Rouse was jailed for two years for the handling offences, with concurrent six-month terms for the drugs, but a consecutive one-year sentence for dangerous driving, for which he was also disqualified for two-and-a-half years.
Judge Sally Hancox told him: “You were a real and serious risk to other road-users, and to yourself.
“You were driving at some point at in excess of 100mph, and on the wrong side of the A45, a major route which runs from Birmingham to Daventry where it becomes the M45, narrowly missing other road users.”