Video shows police pursuing drink-driver through East Sussex

A drink-driver who caused a head-on collision after leading police on a high-speed pursuit through East Sussex has been jailed.

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 10:23 am

Leon Karaloucas, 34, of East Street, Maidstone, Kent, pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving; causing serious injury by dangerous driving; and drink-driving after the incident on September 24, 2019.

Police, in an unmarked vehicle, were travelling northbound on the A26 towards Beddingham around 8pm that evening when they were overtaken by a white Seat Leon Cupra.

They immediately illuminated their lights and signalled for the driver to stop, but he failed to do so, police said.

Leon Karaloucas' white Seat Leon Cupra after the crash. Photo supplied by Sussex Police SUS-210423-164457001

The pursuit continued through Lewes towards Ringmer, where the driver eventually pulled over onto the pavement. But as officers pulled up behind and were getting out of their vehicle, the Seat accelerated away, police added.

Police said the pursuit reached speeds of 124mph as officers attempted to catch up with the car, but it was out of sight and the pursuit was aborted as it was considered too dangerous.

Just minutes later and less than half a mile from where police called it off, a crash was reported involving the speeding vehicle and a BMW 116.

Investigations revealed the driver had overtaken another vehicle on approach to a left-hand bend – contravening a double solid white line – and crashed head-on into the BMW, causing extensive damage to both, a police spokesman confirmed.

The BMW 116 after the head-on crash with Karaloucas' car. The BMW driver suffered multiple fractures and was taken to hospital. Photo by Sussex Police SUS-210423-164507001

The Seat driver was identified as Leon Karaloucas. He was pulled from his car by a local resident and taken to hospital for treatment.

The BMW driver – a 68-year-old local woman – sustained multiple fractures and was also taken to hospital.

There, Karaloucas provided a sample of blood for analysis which revealed he had 111mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system. The legal limit is 80mg.

He was subsequently summonsed to court to face charges of dangerous driving; causing serious injury by dangerous driving; and drink-driving.

He pleaded guilty to all three offences, according to police, and at Lewes Crown Court on April 20, he was sentenced to three years and eight months’ imprisonment. He was also disqualified from driving for five years and 10 months, and must take an extended re-test should he wish to drive again.

Investigating officer, PC Richard Brand, of the Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “On 24 September 2019, Karaloucas failed to stop for police and drove in a dangerous manner and exceeded speeds of 100mph in a 60mph speed limit. Police called off the pursuit, however Karaloucas continued to drive in a dangerous manner and was involved in a serious collision with a member of public’s vehicle, causing extensive damage and serious injuries to the female driver.

“In court, he was sentenced for the offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, dangerous driving, and driving a motor vehicle when alcohol level above the legal limit.

“Driving in a dangerous or careless manner on the roads of Sussex will not be accepted. Karaloucas made his own decision to drink and drive on that night, and his subsequent decision making has now cost him his freedom. Worse still is that another member of public sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision and is still receiving ongoing treatment.

“Excess speed, dangerous/careless driving and drink-driving are three of the five most common causes of fatal and serious injury collisions on our roads. Motorists who commit these types of offences can expect to be dealt with robustly.”