West Cornforth pizza shop owner jailed over high speed police chase

A PIZZA shop owner led several police vehicles on a protracted pursuit down country roads and narrow village streets after a night's drinking.

Durham Crown Court heard that Daljit Johal was flagged down by a police van shortly after 4.30am on September 27, last year.

But as an officer approached, Johal suddenly pulled away at speed, pursued by the van and a patrol car.

The court heard in the course of more than six minutes which followed he drove at speeds up to 80 and 90-miles per hour, some on 30-limit roads.

He took roundabouts in the wrong direction and ignored the blue flashing lights of up to four tailing police vehicles.

The chase went through Hett Village and Sunderland Bridge, near Durham, onto the A167 dual carriageway, and ended when Johal’s car was “boxed in” by two police vehicles in North Road, Tudhoe, near Spennymoor.

Paul Lee, prosecuting, said Johal was still revving the vehicle, as if intending to drive off, if a gap emerged.

As officers approached the damaged driver’s door, Johal shouted that he was taking a man to hospital on an emergency.

But his passenger was laughing and told police he had only been for a drink with Johal, who runs a pizza shop.

Mr Lee said Johal was taken to a police station but refused to co-operate with officers and would not provide a breath specimen.

The court heard he has two previous drink driving convictions and had used a forged licence during one subsequent ban.

Thirty-year-old Johal, of High Street, West Cornforth, County Durham, admitted dangerous driving, failing to provide a breath specimen and failing to stop for police, plus no insurance.

Chris Morrison, mitigating, said: “As an officer approached the car he quite clearly had a fit of panic and, very unwisely, chose to drive off.

“First and foremost he would like to apologise for his stupidity.

“Most of this driving, however, was on quiet country roads in the early hours when there were few other road users about.”

Mr Morrison said Johal took over a former fish and chip shop in West Cornforth and has made a success of the pizza business, employing four people and providing for his extended family.

Jailing him for 16 months, Recorder Alistair MacDonald told Johal he drove in, “an outrageous fashion”, while apparently heavily intoxicated, posing a risk to any other potential road user.

He also banned Johal from driving for five years.

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