Driver jailed after St Albans city centre getaway chase

THE DRIVER of a gang who stole a phone from a St Albans city centre store last month and nearly mowed down a policeman has been jailed.

Romanian-born Iulian Ispilante, 29, from Slough, who came to the country with his wife but left his children behind, had admitted taking metal poles from Eton College in Berkshire in an attempt to sell them for scrap metal on July 15, during the boarding school’s summer break.

But after being handed a community order for that offence on August 8, St Albans Crown Court heard that just two days later he drove a gang to St Albans city centre where he stole a phone from the O2 phone store in St Peter’s Street.

During the getaway the father-of-two nearly mowed down a police officer who stood in his way to stop him, while another who was able to open the passenger door was knocked to the ground when Ispilante sharply reversed the car.

The BMW was later recovered abandoned with a stolen iPhone worth �499 found inside.

Ispilante, originally from Bucharest, admitted one charge of theft and another of dangerous driving as well as being in breach of his order at St Albans Crown Court last Thursday.

Judge Andrew Bright said: “It is only sheer luck and not because of any judgement on your part that these officers, acting in the course of their duty, were not seriously injured.

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“Those who endanger the lives of police officers must know that they face a significant custodial sentence.

“Your offences that day are aggravated by the fact that just two days earlier you were sentenced to a community order with unpaid work and a curfew requirement which you showed no regard for.

“You left your children behind to come here with your wife, and in due course you intended for them to join you.

“That plan doesn’t seem to be going very far very fast, funding your lifestyle by stealing. People who behave as you did can expect to go to prison.”

The judge sentenced Ispilante to eight months in prison for dangerous driving and one month for the phone theft, to run concurrently.

He revoked the existing order and handed the thief two four-month prison terms for the two breaches to run concurrently but consecutively to the other offences.

In total the prison terms add up to 12 months of which he must serve at least half with 28 days on remand to be taken into account.

He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.