A DRINK driver lost control of a car and crashed after trying to make off from police with almost twice the legal limit for alcohol in his system, a court heard.

Sean Hodgson and a front seat passenger had to be helped from the Ford Focus which ended on its side after hitting a fence and tree.

Durham Crown Court heard the officers feared the extensively-damaged car may catch light, as smoke gushed from the engine.

Both Hodgson and his passenger, who suffered a shoulder injury, were taken to hospital for examination.

Amrit Jandoo, prosecuting, said Hodgson, who it emerged was not injured, gave a breath test reading of 66mg of alcohol, compared to the legal limit of 35mg.

Mr Jandoo said the passenger told the officers he pleaded with Hodgson to stop during the pursuit, but the defendant said he refused as he knew he had been drinking and wanted to avoid police action.

The court was told police were drawn to the Focus after hearing the noise of it being driven at speed, doing a hand brake turn, on Abraham Industrial Estate, St Helen Auckland, at 2.50am on March 25.

Seeing the police vehicle, Hodgson drove off at speed, at double the 40mph limit on Maude Terrace.

Despite the police car’s blue lights being illuminated, Hodgson sped onto Manor Road, driving right at a ‘Keep Left’ sign, at times braking heavily, causing the rear end of the Focus to “snake out”.

He took a sharp right-hand turn onto Leazes Lane and on to Greenfields Road, where an oncoming vehicle had to take evasive action.

When the police car caught up with the Focus the officers found it on its side, following the collision.

Hodgson, 28, of West Lane, Bishop Auckland, admitted dangerous driving, with excess alcohol in his system, and no insurance.

The court heard he committed similar offences in 2009, in another police pursuit, for which he received a four-month sentence and an 18-month driving ban.

Lewis Kerr, mitigating, said Hodgson has since kept out of trouble and taken an extended re-test to enable him to drive lawfully again, but accepts he drove “appallingly” on seeing the police car.

Jailing him for 14 months, Judge Christopher Prince repeated his often aired remarks to motorists ignoring police requests to stop.

“There are five words everyone needs to know, and I hope some take account of, on seeing a blue light.

“They are: ‘Stop or go to prison.’ It’s really simple. You didn’t stop, so you are going to go to prison.”

Hodgson was also banned from driving for two years and seven months.