A learner driver who was living in his Audi TT claimed he sped off from police because his father and friends had ‘bad experiences’ with the law.

Kai Wheeler, 22, forced his way through slow-moving traffic after making off from the marked police car on the A44 near Peartree roundabout on May 20.

The police officer, a Sgt Clamp, had tried to pull him over after the Audi began to speed off when he saw the patrol car in his rear mirror.

Prosecuting, Cathy Olliver told Oxford Crown Court on Thursday (September 21) that another driver said she had flinched as she saw Wheeler’s sports car hurtling towards her, fearing a collision.

“Her passenger said she thought she was going to die on that day, which happened to be her birthday,” the advocate said.

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The chase turned off the A44 onto the Cassington Road. The Audi went through a red light and sped off onto Yarnton Road.

Sgt Clamp lost sight of the roadster and eventually had to give up the chase. He re-traced his steps and found the Audi had crashed into a ditch and uprooted an electricity pylon.

Ms Olliver said the cost to the electricity board of the crash amounted to more than £37,000, as they had to pay compensation to customers left without power for hours.

Wheeler fled the scene but handed himself in at Witney police station three days after the crash. He was sent to Banbury police station, where officers conducted an interview around a week later.

He gave a prepared statement in which he said he had been scared when he saw the police car, realising he did not have a licence to drive the Audi. Those he knew, including his own father, had had ‘bad experiences’ of the police in the past, he said.

The defendant, of Lock Court, Brize Norton, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to driving dangerously and without a licence or insurance. He had no previous convictions.

Mitigating, Emma Richards said her client was genuinely remorseful for what he had done, and appreciated the dangerousness of his driving and the cost of the crash.

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At the time he was homeless and living in his car, moving his belongings from place to place.

Sentencing, Judge Nigel Daly told Wheeler: “You were driving an Audi TT, which I understand you’d swapped I think for the Alfa Romeo, which you had before it, which you bought for cash.

“These are curious choices for somebody who has no licence and no insurance. Most people learn to drive in smaller cars.”

He suspended the 12 month prison sentence for a year and a half. Wheeler was banned from driving for two years and must complete 150 hours of unpaid work and up to 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.