A DANGER driver who sparked a blue light police chase in a stolen Jaguar, tearing across a public park before fleeing on foot, was jailed today (Wednesday, August 6).

Mark Ward stole the Jaguar XJ saloon after a party in Stanley, County Durham, on May 21 and drove it around the region all night before his worried mother rang the police the next morning, Durham Crown Court heard.

Officers caught up with him on Saltview Terrace, Middlesbrough, at about 9.30am.

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But Ward then led them on a chase around Port Clarence, veering onto the wrong side of the road and hitting a kerb on Palm Terrace before driving onto a recreation ground, prosecutor Adrian Dent said.

Fortunately, there was no-one around, although there were horses tethered nearby.

Ward and two other men jumped out of the car, leaving it to career into a boulder with Ward’s girlfriend still inside.

She was not injured and all three men were arrested.

Ward initially refused to respond to police questions, although he later admitted his part in the escapade after being shown incriminating CCTV footage.

Ward, of Limetrees Close, Port Clarence, admitted taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, theft of £30 to £40 in cash from another car, theft of a satellite navigation system from a third car, driving without insurance and failing to stop after an accident.

Paul Newcombe, representing the 22-year-old, who has never learned to drive, said his client was a “changed young man” showing growing maturity, who had started a new relationship and was his mother’s carer.

He said Ward knew how serious his behaviour was and he was frightened of its consequences, but he asked the court to give him a chance.

However, Judge Christopher Prince said Ward had shown utter disregard for public safety and it was only due to luck no-one was hurt by his “dangerous driving”.

“Those who engage in police chases go to prison – it’s as simple as that,” the judge said.

Ward was sentenced to 16 months in prison and disqualified from driving for two years.

The other men have been sentenced to six weeks’ prison and a community order, while Ward’s then-girlfriend was cautioned.