Jail for L driver involved in 137mph car chase half an hour after buying new motor

A Subaru Impreza similar to the one driven by Leon Lloyd
A Subaru Impreza similar to the one driven by Leon Lloyd

A learner driver has been jailed for leading the police on a 137mph chase which only ended when his second hand sports car blew up.

Leon Lloyd had only picked up the Subaru Imprezza 30 minutes earlier and was driving it from Bude in Cornwall to his home in Skelmersdale when police tried to stop him for having no insurance.

He pretended to pull into a lay-by but then took off at such high speeds that the police patrol car struggled to keep up, reaching 137mph at one point but not gaining ground on him.

The Subaru covered nine miles between South Molton and Tiverton on the A361 in Devon in just four and a half minutes, meaning his average speed during the chase was 120mph on a 60mph road.

A dashcam in the police car showed him crossing double white lines, going round a roundabout without stopping, and weaving between traffic.

The car went so fast that police lost sight of it twice before the footage showed smoke billowing from the blown engine. The traffic car pulled alongside it to prevent Lloyd getting out of the driver’s door.

The pursuit occurred at 3.50pm on a Saturday afternoon in July when the road was busy with families going to and from North Devon’s beaches.

Lloyd had been working for an animal charity in Spain but came back to Britain to take his driving test. He only had a provisional licence and had volunteered to help a friend drive the Subaru back to Skelmersdale.

There were two other people inside the car who had both been begging him to slow down during the pursuit.

Lloyd, aged 23, of Carfield, Skelmersdale, admitted dangerous driving and driving with no insurance or licence. He was jailed for eight months and banned from driving for three years by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: “There is no way you could have a vehicle travelling at that speed under control. There were dozens and dozens of vehicles coming towards you. One slight hiccup with the steering wheel would have caused a collision with possible multiple fatalities.

“The driving in this case was shockingly dangerous. There was a period when the police were driving at more than 135mph and making no progress.

“This was a sustained and prolonged period in which you drove with complete disregard for road marking, speed limits and the safety of other drivers.”

Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said the police tried to stop the 51 plate Subaru as it headed South on the A361 North Devon Link towards the M5 at 3.50pm on Saturday July 20 this year.

Lloyd pulled into a lay-by, making the police believe he was about to stop, but then sped off and reached very high speeds, overtaking across double white lines. At one point the police car reached 137mph without closing on the Subaru.

Mr Wraith said: “The police were surprised the Subaru could go that fast, and in fact its engine blew up. There was no insurance and Lloyd only had a provisional licence.”

Lloyd told the officers he was helping out a friend who had just bought the Subaru in Bude and was driving home in his own car while he drove the new purchase.

Mary McCarthy, defending, said Lloyd is a trained plasterer who has been helping his uncle run a dog rescue charity in Spain. He had come back to Britain to take his driving test.

He tried to join the army but was declared medically unfit because of a skin condition. He hopes to try again once it has been treated.

A probation report said Lloyd panicked when he saw the police car. He is very sorry for his behaviour and accepts it lacked maturity and an ability to anticipate the consequences.