100mph A47 car chase boxer is spared jail term

Jon WelchA former professional boxer who led police on a high-speed car chase has been spared jail after a court heard how injuries sustained in the ring could have affected his behaviour.Jon Welch

A former professional boxer who led police on a high-speed car chase has been spared jail after a court heard how injuries sustained in the ring could have affected his behaviour.

Paul Althoff, 45, was arrested after reaching speeds of 100mph on the A47 near Norwich with police in hot pursuit.

Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday how Althoff had borrowed a Renault Megane from a family friend, despite having no licence or insurance.

He was spotted by a police officer at about 3.30pm on March 19 last year driving the wrong way out of the petrol station next to McDonald's on Barrett Road, Norwich.

As the officer followed Althoff along the A146 he saw him drive erratically, crossing lane markings and accelerating and decelerating abruptly, said Christopher Youell, prosecuting.

He followed Althoff towards Loddon. Althoff then turned on to the A47 towards Yarmouth with the police car still following, with blue lights and siren on.

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Althoff, of Sudbury, veered between lanes every few seconds, forcing other drivers to swerve and brake. He reached speeds of 100mph, with the police car following at a safe distance.

He turned off at the Postwick interchange, driving into the Meridian Way Business Park. 'He was lurching from lane to lane. A member of the public had to take avoiding action - it was a very close shave. It was reckless and dangerous in the extreme,' said Mr Youell.

Althoff then stopped the car and ran off, leaving two male passengers, who were said to be shaken, in the car.

The police officer chased him, but fell in a ditch. The force helicopter was scrambled, and Althoff was later arrested by a police dog unit.

The court heard that despite driving for years, Althoff had never held a licence.

Michael Clare, defending, said Althoff was a former professional boxer with 47 bouts to his name. Producing a letter from a consultant neurologist, he said: 'He is beginning to suffer some problems with his brain.

'The letter says it may well be that the condition would lead to some distracted thinking; some irrational thinking and decision-making which the defendant exhibited on this occasion.

'He is not the first to have got to this stage in life where as a result of being a pugilist he has begun to have some form of mental difficulty. He has already had a mild stroke and a number of blackouts.'

Althoff admitted dangerous driving, driving without a licence and insurance and obstructing a police officer.

Recorder Christopher Makey sentenced him to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered him to perform 160 hours of unpaid work.

He was also fined a total of �200 and ordered to pay costs of �350. He was disqualified from driving for 12 months and will have to take an extended retest before he is allowed to drive. His provisional licence was endorsed with six penalty points.

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