A MOTORING menace drove directly at an unmarked police car after performing a sudden 180-degree U-turn but swiftly conceded when detained that he had been “an idiot”.

‪Carlisle Crown Court was told of 36-year-old Robert David Ashbridge’s “appalling” rap sheet, of his first driving offence at the age of just 13 and that he had never passed a test.

‪But on the night of November 3, seeking to make a quick profit on a Vauxhall Astra amid repeated demands from bailiffs, Ashbridge got behind the wheel again in Cleator Moor.

‪This was seen at 10.40pm by uniformed police officers inside an unmarked patrol car who heard the Astra being revved. It approached from behind, coming within a foot of the vehicle before pulling into the opposite carriageway and overtaking at 50mph in a 30mph zone.

It then turned into an industrial estate. “The officers followed him,” said prosecutor Jack Troup.

“The defendant performed what they describe as a handbrake turn, turning a full 180 degree so that the vehicle was facing the officers as they entered the industrial estate.”

Ashbridge then drove “straight at the officers’ vehicle”, Mr Troup adding: “It seems that a collision was avoided by both vehicles swerving out of the way.”

An officer in a marked car arrived and stopped Ashbridge, who admitted: “I shouldn’t have done it. I shouldn’t have been an idiot. I don’t care what happens to the car.”

‪Ashbridge, of Seven Acres, Parton, Whitehaven, admitted dangerous driving, disqualified driving and no insurance.

Tim Evans, defending, said he had driven the car for “desperate financial reasons”, and hadn’t known the occupants of the unmarked vehicle following him were police officers. “It is not a deliberate attempt to ram,” said Mr Evans. “It is an attempt to frighten individuals he thought were pursuing him with a view to doing him ill.”

Jailing him for eight months, Recorder Philip Grundy said: “This is the sixth time that you have appeared before the court for dangerous driving. It is the 13th time, on my calculations, that you have appeared for disqualified driving.

“You have never, at any stage in your short life, passed a driving test. You should not be driving a vehicle of any description at all.”

Recorder Grundy also ordered forfeiture of the Astra, imposed a three-year driving ban and ordered him to pass an extended test.