A DISQUALIFIED driver who narrowly avoided “two serious collisions at high speed” was labelled “an absolute maniac” by a judge.

Adam Woolward ignored the request of police officers to pull over on the A31 in East Dorset.

He “squeezed” the Volkswagen Touran he was driving between the marked police car and a van before travelling at around 75mph in a 50mph zone.

At Ashley Heath roundabout he failed to give way, nearly crashing as a result, before speeding at 80mph along a 40mph stretch of Horton Road.

Woolward, 28, pulled into a small gravel car park at Ringwood Forest and fled from the vehicle. However, he left the handbrake off, causing the car to roll back into the pursuing police car.

An officer chased Woolward, of Dymewood Road, Three Legged Cross, on foot and he was detained.

Victoria Lovett, prosecuting, told Bournemouth Crown Court yesterday that police initially asked Woolward to pull over to the side of the road as they wanted to find out why he was travelling during the Covid lockdown on the afternoon of January 22.

The defendant, who had been disqualified since December 2019 for drink driving, failed to do so and the police chase ensued.

Following his arrest, he gave no comment in interview, the court heard.

He admitted charges of dangerous driving, failing to stop for an officer, driving while disqualified and using a vehicle without insurance last month at Poole Magistrates’ Court.

Mitigating at crown court yesterday, Mark Florida-James said it was clear there was “remorse and regret” from the defendant, who had a “great deal of fear” about going to prison.

The barrister said the defendant suffered a mental health illness and had problems with alcohol, which he was working to address.

In relation to the offence, Mr Florida-James said: “Possibly the most reckless and stupid decision of his life.”

While the barrister said Woolward could deserve to go to prison for what he had done, he asked the court for a degree of “mercy”.

Mr Florida-James highlighted personal mitigation that a close relative of the defendant was in hospital with a terminal illness and they would suffer most from him being behind bars.

Judge Robert Pawson decided to spare the defendant immediate custody, noting the personal mitigation, the realistic prospect of rehabilitation, which had been highlighted by the probation service, and the harmful impact him being jailed would have on others.

Sentencing the defendant to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, the judge said: “I know the roads really well that you were driving on and you could have killed someone.”

He added: “You are an absolute maniac and that is why the sentence for dangerous driving is a maximum of two years in prison.”

The judge said Woolward had “no regard for others” and he “narrowly avoided two serious collisions at high speed”.

The defendant was told he owed “ a debt of gratitude” to Mr Florida-James for the way he mitigated the case, which crossed the custody threshold.

Judge Pawson said: “You are an intelligent man. Break the law again in the next two years, you go straight to prison.”

Woolward was also disqualified from driving for two years, with a requirement to complete an extended retest should he wish to obtain a licence in the future.

He was ordered to pay £425 costs, complete up to 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and follow a four-month overnight curfew.