TWO men caught driving at speeds of up to 144mph were today condemned as "adolescent, selfish and dangerous" by magistrates who banned them from the road for three years and handed them suspended prison sentences.

Police and road safety campaigners said the "appalling" driving could have had catastrophic consequences and led to a fatal crash.

The Northern Echo:
James Burrows at Northallerton Magistrates Court today

Daniel Scott Richardson, 21, was driving a blue Ford Focus RS closely followed by James Burrows, 26, in a Silver Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, with passengers in both cars.

The drivers, both from Leeds, were captured by North Yorkshire Police’s mobile safety camera just after midday on Saturday, November 30 last year, driving at 144mph in close convoy on the A19 southbound carriageway near the village of Crathorne.

The men had been go-carting in Middlesbrough and were on their way home. Richardson had one passenger and Burrows had two.

Both men pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on January 3 and were today sentenced at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court. Each were sentenced to a four month prison term, suspended for 18 months, and a three year driving ban.

They were ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and fined £145 each.

Sam Law, prosecuting, said: “Richardson accepts he was driving at speed but said he didn’t know how fast, and that he was racing the car behind – however Burrows did not agree the pair had been racing.”

Michael Sisson-Pell, mitigating for Richardson, said: “The road was not busy – otherwise they would not have been able to achieve the speeds they did.

“Just because one was following another closely it was not racing. He knows he has made a stupid mistake.”

Michael Walsh, for Burrows, added: “He understands the seriousness of the incident - he knows he has been a fool and let his family down.”

Chairman of the bench John Bacon said: “We have never seen speeds of 144mph, particularly on a dual carriageway at midday on a Saturday, and in convoy, showing off.

“The mere suggestion of a rabbit running out could have led to a catastrophe in North Yorkshire.

“It was described as a momentary mistake but you could not get a car up to that speed in a heartbeat, maintain it then drive in convoy.

“I would describe this as adolescent, selfish and dangerous.”

Speaking after the case, North Yorkshire Police’s mobile safety camera manager Dave Brown said: “Today’s sentence sends a clear message as to how seriously the criminal justice system takes such appalling driving.

“The evidence captured by the safety camera shows both vehicles travelling in close proximity at extremely high speed. Any error, no matter how minor, could have been catastrophic.

“Our mobile safety cameras are there to help keep the roads safe for all road users and we urge motorists to bear this in mind, drive at appropriate speeds and within the speed limit and do not, under any circumstances use the roads as a racetrack.”

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “This level of speed is incredibly dangerous and anti-social. The drivers can consider themselves very lucky not to have caused a fatal crash and not to have received a more severe sentence.

“Speeding, especially this extreme, endangers the lives of the driver, passengers and other motorists.

“At excessive speeds, drivers have much less time to react to what is happening and stopping distances increase massively.”