Getaway driver jailed after 180mph police chase in Audi hot rod

A getaway driver who reached speeds of 180mph in a souped-up Audi has been jailed for nine years by a judge who called his driving "atrocious".

Ben Westwood, 33, was sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court for conspiracy to burgle, conspiracy to steal and dangerous driving. The court heard that he was the leader of a gang which carried out a string of robberies across the Midlands over the past year.

The chase was captured on camera from a police helicopter:

Westwood gave chase after attempting to rob a cash machine in Wolverhampton on January 13. The car was travelling so fast that sparks can be seen spraying from the rear wheels.

West Midlands Police said he fled the scene at the wheel of an Audi, travelling on to the M6 northbound through Hilton Park services. At one point he performed a handbrake and started driving in the wrong direction along on the motorway.

The Audi RS5 driven by Ben Westwood
The Audi RS5 driven by Ben Westwood Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

A force spokesman said:

Police gave chase but were forced to halt their pursuit as the car reached a staggering 180 miles per hour.

The police helicopter took up the chase as they doubled back at junction 13 and attempted to exit at junction 12.

A police stinger didn't deter them as they did a U-turn on the exit slip road and went back on to the M6 the wrong way, doing a handbrake turn to set them southbound again to leave at Hilton Park services.

– Police statement

Sky News reports that he was driving a distinctive white Audi RS5, which had been sprayed black and fitted with a Lamborghini engine.

The car, worth £85,000 and one of only two of that particular type in the country, turned out to be Westwood's undoing.

Police realised it had been stolen from Stourport-on-Seven in Worcestershire the previous August. The gang used a string of different number plates to avoid detection, Sky News reports.

West Midlands Police handout of Ben Westwood
West Midlands Police handout of Ben Westwood Credit: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

Westwood, from Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, later abandoned the car at a block of flats where he was arrested after police dogs found him inside a property.

Recorder Nigel Baker QC told Westwood today:

You have an appalling record for a man of 33. You are no stranger to burglaries of this type.

I have come to the conclusion that the time has come to increase the level of sentencing that you have previously had.

This was an atrocious piece of dangerous driving. You drove through the suburban streets of Wolverhampton at speeds which the police car could not keep up.

– Nigel Baker QC

Westwood's four co-defendants were all jailed for varying lengths of time for conspiracy to steal.