Jail for 180mph M6 chase driver Ben Westwood
A man caught doing 180mph in a police chase on the M6 in the West Midlands has been jailed for nine years.
Ben Westwood, of Woden Road, Wednesfield, was found guilty of dangerous driving and conspiracy to burgle and steal earlier this month.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how during the 65-mile chase in January Westwood, 33, almost outpaced the police helicopter, in a stolen car.
Westwood is thought to be the fastest driver to be caught in the UK.
He was also banned from driving for four years.
The court heard how the modified Audi RS5, worth £85,000, was stolen from Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, in August 2011.
Police said the car was then linked to 16 raids across Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands, including incidents at a bowling alley and a jewellers.
The raids took place between August 2011 and January 2012, during the course of which the car, originally white, was sprayed silver and then black.
Four other men were also sentenced for their part in the thefts:
- Ramesh Sharma, 38, from Barrington Close, Oxley, Wolverhampton, was jailed for three years for conspiracy to steal
- Gregory Simpson, 26, from Wordsworth Road, Wolverhampton, was jailed for four years for conspiracy to steal
- Luke Watkins, 34, from Whestone Road, Bushbury, Wolverhampton, was jailed for three years for conspiracy to steal plus nine months for dangerous driving
- Stephen Green, 41, from Castlebridge Road, Wednesfield, was jailed for four-and-a half years for conspiracy to steal
The chase, in the early hours of 13 January, took place after a raid on the Murco petrol station in Warstones Road, Wolverhampton.
Police arrested Sharma, Green and Watkins, who were in a separate van, but Westwood and Simpson headed towards the M6, chased by a police car.
He joined the motorway, where he headed north up to junction 13 at Stafford before turning around and then heading southbound again.
Footage from a police helicopter showed how Westwood tried to avoid a sting trap set down by police on the sliproad at junction 12.
He could then be seen doing a U-turn, driving the car the wrong way up the sliproad before joining the main carriageway again.
Westwood abandoned the car at a block of flats in Pickering Road, Wednesfield, where police dogs had tracked him and Simpson, before officers arrested them.
On sentencing Westwood, Recorder Nigel Baker said he had an "appalling record for a man of 33".
He added: "You are no stranger to burglaries of this type."
The judge added: "This was an atrocious piece of dangerous driving. You drove through the suburban streets of Wolverhampton at speeds [with] which the police car could not keep up.
"You were driving on the wrong side of the road. There was a moment in that pursuit when the helicopter thought that your intention was to out-run the helicopter.
"It was the most appalling piece of driving."
Supt Richard Baker said Westwood had shown "a blatant disregard for other road users".
He added: "Video footage from the helicopter estimates speeds of up to 180mph on the M6 as he attempted to evade capture."