Peterborough washing powder thief fails to make clean getaway after 100mph police chase on A1

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Judge says it was ‘only fortune’ that meant there was no ‘catastrophic collision’ during pursuit

A shoplifter who led police on a 100mph chase on the A1 has been jailed after a judge said he put other motorists in ‘grave danger.’

Florin Cristea (28) of Northfield Road, Peterborough, had stolen hundreds of pounds worth of goods from Home Bargains in Alconbury, and was driving his Vauxhall north on the A1 when police asked the disqualified driver to pull over.

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But rather than stop for the officers, Cristea put his foot down, and accelerated, starting a 25 minute pursuit along the A1 on the afternoon of Sunday, May 20.

Cristea said he stole the items for his own use, or to send to Romania - but Recorder Thacker said he did not believe himCristea said he stole the items for his own use, or to send to Romania - but Recorder Thacker said he did not believe him
Cristea said he stole the items for his own use, or to send to Romania - but Recorder Thacker said he did not believe him

He eventually pulled over, and was arrested.

On Monday (June 19) he was jailed for a total of 16 months at Peterborough Crown Court after admitting a string of offences.

Driving was ‘aggressive and dangerous’

The court was told Cristea was banned from the roads at the time of the chase – and had a number of previous convictions for driving while disqualified in recent years.

Recorder James Thacker, sentencing, described Cristea’s driving as ‘aggressive and dangerous’ and it was fortunate there had not been a ‘catastrophic collision’ as a result of his actions.

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Richard White, prosecuting, told the court: “Police were on duty on the A1, looking for the defendant’s vehicle.

"They spotted him near junction 14, and indicated for him to pull over at about 4.10pm.

"The defendant raised his arm as if to indicate he understood – but instead he accelerated to 70mph, and then increased his speed to 90mph.

"He then accelerated again, up to 105mph, and was moving between lanes three and four.”

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The court was then told he entered an area of road limited to 40mph because of roadworks – but he continued driving at around 80mph, undertaking a car.

Mr White said; “The police attempted to stop him using a stinger device – but he swerved and braked hard, stopping in a layby, where he was arrested."

The court heard the chase came to an end at 4.35pm – 25 minutes after it began.

In the car, police found stolen shopping, including washing powder and toothpaste, worth £597.80. The goods had been stolen earlier that day, and had been placed in foil lined bags.

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The court also heard Cristea was wanted in connection with a theft from Aldi in Chatteris, where £876 worth of goods was stolen on April 1.

The court heard Cristea has a number of previous convictions, for theft and driving whilst disqualified.

Defendant claimed stolen goods were for ‘personal use’ – but judge does not believe him

Miss Mallon, defending, appealed to the court to suspend any prison sentence.

She said: “There was no injury caused, and no damage to any property.

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"There was only one incident of undertaking – it was not a persistent set of dangerous manoeuvres.”

Miss Mallon also told the court that Cristea claimed he had stolen the items for ‘personal use’ or to send to his parents, who are looking after his three children in his native Romania.

However, Recorder Thacker said: “I reject that suggestion. In my judgement, you were clearly stealing to sell.”

He added: “There is lots and lots of washing powder. It would cost more to send it to Romania than but it. The amount shown in the photo would last months, if not years.”

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She also said Cristea claimed he thought the speed limit in the UK was higher – but Recorder Thacker again rejected that claim.

Miss Mallon said her client would do anything he could to avoid prison, and said he had panicked when he saw police.

"It is only good fortune that there was no catastrophic collision”

But Recorder Thacker, sentencing, described his driving as ‘aggressive,’ saying undertaking was ‘extremely dangerous.’ He said: “You had absolutely no regard to other road users.

"The only person you cared about was yourself in attempting to outrun the police.

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"The manner of your driving was dangerous. It is only good fortune that there was no catastrophic collision.”

Cristea was given a 12 month jail sentence for dangerous driving, three months for driving while disqualified, to be served concurrently, and two months each for the two counts of shoplifting. There was no separate penalty for driving with no insurance.

A four year driving ban, to start when he is released from prison, was also imposed, and Cristea will have to take an extended retest before driving again.”

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