A BOY racer who cut up an ambulance rushing to an emergency as he sped away from a police car at 120mph has avoided a prison sentence.

Anthony Rawlings, who has a series of previous convictions for driving offences, said he was “completely shocked” with his unlikely reprieve at Basildon Crown Court.

At about 3.40am on September 19 last year, he was spotted driving his Mercedes erratically at a roundabout in Cranes Farm Road, Basildon.

A marked police car followed him on to the London-bound track of the A127. When Rawlings saw the flashing blue lights, he accelerated to speeds of up to 120mph on the 70mph road.

He did not even stop when traffic cones narrowed the dual carriageway into one lane and he was forced to pull up sharply behind an ambulance. Instead he drove into the cones, and forced the ambulance, which was attending a 999 call, to swerve to avoid his car.

Rawlings raced on, cutting up another car as he joined a single-lane stretch of the A128, heading towards Thurrock. On that 50mph road he continued to clock speeds of up to 120mph as the pursuing officers struggled to keep up.

It was at that point he decided to turn his lights off.

Eventually he turned into Welling Road, a residential street in Orsett. He had not realised it was a cul-de-sac and police blocked off the exit. Rawlings got out as officers approached on foot. He told them: “I was not driving. The driver ran off.”

But, smelling of alcohol, he was arrested on suspicion of drink driving. He was breathalised and found to be below the legal limit.

It was just ten days since his most recent driving ban had finished. He got that after being jailed for six months for dangerous driving in March 2007.

Rawlings, of Warmongers Lane, Brentwood, admitted dangerous driving at a hearing in March.

Recorder Marc Lowe QC gave him a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and told him to complete a drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme during a 12-month supervision period. He was also given a six-month electronic night-time curfew, banned from driving for three years, and told to pay £535 costs.

After the hearing, Rawlings, a demolition worker, who has a four-year-old daughter with an ex-partner, said: “I am completely shocked because I expected to be in prison right now.

“I’m sorry for what I did. I intend to take this chance to sort myself out. I don’t want my daughter growing up without a dad.”