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18 June 2016, 09:07
A motorcyclist who narrowly avoided colliding with pedestrians during a high speed pursuit across Sussex has been jailed.
Gavin Collett, 32, unemployed, of Bramber Road, Broadwater, carried out a series of dangerous manoeuvres at various locations, including built-up parts of Worthing and Brighton.
On several occasions he went straight through red lights while pedestrians were crossing, mounted pavements, travelled in the face of oncoming traffic and overtook vehicles with little room to do so.
A judge at Lewes Crown Court sentenced Collett to a total of two years in prison; 18 months for dangerous driving and three months for each of two counts of failing to stop after a road traffic collision.
He was also disqualified from driving for three years and must remain on licence for at least 12 months on release from prison.
PC Ben Henwood, of the Sussex Police Road Policing Unit, who led the investigation, said: "Collett's sentence is fully deserved, and it represents the massively aggravated nature of his behaviour over an extended period of time. While this is a good result from a policing point of view, the best result is the fact that no one was injured on that day, and we're extremely thankful for that.
"We have reviewed the footage and this is without doubt the most outrageous incident of dangerous driving we have ever seen in Sussex.
"Throughout his journey, Collett showed a blatant disregard for anyone else's safety and it's a miracle no one else was hurt.
"He went straight across the flow of oncoming traffic at ridiculous speeds, he went through the fully pedestrianised area of Montague Street in Worthing, he mounted pavements to undertake cars when pedestrians were present, and he travelled at breakneck speed between Goring and Ferring when there was no margin for error at all.
"It's unbelievable how he hasn't killed himself or anyone else. He's lucky to be alive.”
Collett was initially spotted by police riding in excess of 100mph on the A24 southbound between Broadbridge Heath and Findon before the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter from Redhill was deployed to monitor his movements.
PC Henwood added: "Police have tactics to stop motorcyclists. However, in this case we felt it was more appropriate to monitor his movements until a suitable point came where the risk to the public was reduced.
"The challenge we were faced with was to monitor him without doing anything that would spur him on. It was about having the right resources available without trying to exacerbate an already highly dangerous situation.”
Aerial footage of the incident, captured by NPAS Redhill, shows Collett circling the area before crashing on the A24 Warren Road, at the junction with Offington Drive, Worthing, at about 3.40pm.
He then continued without his helmet in the direction of Durrington, and later headed towards Shoreham via the A27.
A second helicopter, NPAS Benson, was then sent to replace the previous one when in the Hove area.
Collett was traced riding back and forth between Brighton and Hove, before he crashed for a second time at the barriers to the Churchill Square car park.
From there, he discarded the bike and his leather jacket, and made off on foot. Officers continued their search in the town centre but were unable to trace him.
Collett eventually handed himself in to police in Hampshire three days later.