Judge praises ‘brave’ householder drove after burglar in motorway chase

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A burglar drove along a motorway at 100mph at night with his lights off in a bid to shake off a householder who was in pursuit.

And a judge has praised the victim for his “bravery and determination” in trying to catch intruder Sandu Oprea who had broken into his Wolvey home.

Oprea got away after stopping and threatening the man with an eight-foot pole – but was arrested because the householder had taken the number of his van.

And at Warwick Crown Court, Oprea, 36, of King Georges Avenue, Coventry, was jailed for a total of three-and-a-half years.

Oprea, who had pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, common assault and dangerous driving, was also banned from driving for 12 months.

Prosecutor Gerry Quirke said that in October last yearthe victim returned to his home in Bulkington Road, Wolvey, at just before 10pm and saw Oprea walking to a grey van nearby.

He was carrying a bag with a plug lead hanging from it, and put the bag in the van before getting in himself and driving off.

Suspicious of what was going on, Mr Clark began to follow. And as they passed the Bulls Head pub at about 30mph something, which was later found to be his television, was thrown out of the van.

Mr Clark continued following the van as it headed to the M69 junction where it pulled up. Oprea got out and walked back towards Mr Clark’s car with his arms wide, saying “What? What?”

As Oprea then returned to the van someone else in the rear of it threw out more items before Oprea drove through a red light and onto the motorway heading towards Leicester.

He came off at a slip road and pulled up again - and when the householder also pulled up, Oprea got out of the van, took an eight-foot pole out of the back and ran towards his pursuer’s car.

As the worried householder reversed away, Oprea threw the pole away, got back into the van and went back onto the motorway, heading towards Coventry with his lights off at up to 100mph.

Trying to keep up, the householder called his sister to tell her the registration number of the van, which she passed on to the police.

But he lost the van after it left the motorway at junction 2 and went through a red light at the exit roundabout.

Having given up the chase, the victim went home where he found a kitchen window had been forced with a crowbar which had been left in one of the bedrooms, and the television, two cameras and a £2,000 iMac computer had been stolen.

Oprea, who had a previous conviction for two house burglaries, was traced through the registration number of his van, and was arrested at his home.

Richard Gibbs, defending, said that to a degree Oprea had been under pressure from the other man to take part in the burglary – but that was rejected by Judge Alan Parker.

Of the dangerous driving, Mr Gibbs said: “He realised the man following them was pursuing them because of what they had in the van, and he was frightened. He knew the van could be traced to him, and he panicked.”

Jailing Oprea, Judge Parker told him that the victim’s home had been “carefully selected” by Oprea and an accomplice.

He added that it was a “happy chance” that the householder came home as the burglary was in progress, adding: “That’s the only way you were detected as you were.”

The judge paid the householder “the highest tribute for his bravery and determination when the van was driven away.”