A LEARNER driver who tore through Cirencester at more than 100mph in an Audi during an 'insane' police chase was sentenced this week.

Madalin Zaharenco, aged 22, panicked when a police officer signalled for him to pull over so sped off at an alarming rate, nearly colliding with oncoming traffic on several occasions, on Tuesday, March 21.

Judge Ian Lawrie told dad-of-one Zaharenco at Gloucester Crown Court on Wednesday, November 29 that his 'appalling, crazy, insane and idiotic' driving around Cirencester could have easily killed his passenger and other road users.

Zaharenco, of Hylder Close, Swindon, pleaded guilty to driving dangerously in Cirencester and not having a valid licence.

The judge told him that although his actions merited custody, he thought a community order of 200 hours of unpaid work and 15 rehabilitation activity days would be more constructive. 

Zaharenco has also been banned from the roads for two years and was ordered to pay £340 in costs.

Prosecutor Edward Hollingsworth told the court that PC Joshua Norris was driving an unmarked police car on the A417 dual carriageway at Daglingworth, near Cirencester, on March 21 when he saw Zaharenco in the Audi and suspected he was exceeding the 70mph limit.

The officer put up a sign saying 'Police, follow me' and at first Zaharenco complied and followed him off the A417 but then suddenly sped off.

A police chase with blue lights and sirens ensured as PC Norris followed the Audi down a wet 60mph single track road.

Mr Hollingsworth said: "Had there been any horses, cyclists or children around the consequences could have been fatal.

"He drove on the wrong side of the road on blind bends and could have had a head on collision with any oncoming traffic.

"As the pursuit approached Gloucester Road the Audi braked slightly but then pulled out of a T-junction in excess of 60mph. 

"He narrowly avoided a collision with a van which could not take evading action in time.

"The Audi then reached 100mph in a 40mph zone, overtaking other vehicles and nearly colliding with oncoming traffic.

"He carried on towards Bristol Road and the town centre and was doing in excess of 103mph at this time.

"He failed to give way to a Land Rover coming from the right and nearly collided with it. 

"Finally, in Hammond Way, he came to a stop.

"In the car he had a female passenger who was also a learner driver so could not have been supervising him.

"His saliva was also tested at the roadside and was positive for cannabis."

Dashcam footage of the incident 


Chris Pembridge, defending Zaharenco, said: "He expresses his remorse, his sincere apologies, for what happened and for his actions which were, on any account, a catastrophic lack of judgement.

"I accept it is luck rather than judgement that things are not worse but thankfully there was no collision, no-one was hurt, and ultimately he had the sense to pull over after a six mile chase."

The judge wanted Zaharenco to realise what custody was like so sent him down to the smallest cell beneath the court for a few hours to reflect on his offending.

Zaharenco said: "I realise how many problem I caused my family by my stupidity, because of my actions.

"I have never had any interaction with the police before. I was just scared."