CONCERN grew when a young motorist took his father’s car for a drive round a busy town centre recently.

Ryan Gavin Wiffen was said to be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd), following a bereavement after a car crash a year earlier.

Durham Crown Court was told a police patrol officer spotted the Seat Leon in King Street, Spennymoor, at 11am on Friday November 30.

Christopher Wood, prosecuting, said the officer followed it onto Oxclose Crescent and tried to pull it over to speak to the driver, putting on his siren and lights.

“But, he sped up, going over 40 in a 30 area, ignoring calming measures and the presence of pedestrians.

“He turned from Wood View onto King Street, heading in the direction of oncoming traffic, causing them to make emergency stops, before going down narrow lanes trying to lose the officer.”

Mr Wood said Wiffen then drove at 45-mph in a 30-zone on St Andrew’s Road, before speeding up on the A688, overtaking slower traffic.

Approaching Thinford roundabout, however, he was blocked in by other traffic and police arrested him after the ten-minute pursuit.

Wiffen, then 19 and now aged 20, of Beech Avenue, Spennymoor, admitted dangerous driving at his first appearance before magistrates, who sent the case to the crown court for sentence.

Ian West, mitigating, said the defendant has no previous motoring offences on his record, and holds down a good job as a roofer, working round the country.

A probation report read to the court said he was suffering ptsd after, “losing someone in a car crash a year ago.”

The report added that it may have triggered Wiffen’s response when he saw police.

But the court heard he has found stability with work and a recent relationship.

Recorder Ben Nolan told Wiffen: “This was an appalling piece of driving, but I appreciate there’s a history of ptsd and it may have been behind your ludicrous decision to drive the way you did.”

He ordered Wiffen to perform 150 hours unpaid work, as part of a 24-month community order, in which he must also undergo 15 rehabilitation activity days and pay £360 costs and an £85 statutory surcharge. Wiffen was also banned from driving for 18 months.