A JUDGE has formally commended two police patrol officers for their “exemplary bravery” in bringing a speeding dangerous driver to a halt before he entered a dual carriageway heading in the wrong direction.

Durham Crown Court was told how PC Andy Garside forced a Renault Clio driven by Daniel Henderson off the road following an intensive five-minute chase on the A181, from the outskirts of Durham to the Castle Eden/Wellfield junction with the A19.

PC Garside, assisted by passenger PC Naomi Anderson, rammed the car as it drove down the southbound exit slip-road,  travelling northwards towards the southbound carriageway, shortly before 10.30pm, on November 17.

The Northern Echo: BRAVE DECISION: PC Andy Garside made brave decision to ram car off the roadBRAVE DECISION: PC Andy Garside made brave decision to ram car off the road

Sentencing the 26-year-old, Judge Christopher Prince said: “PC Garside had an agonising decision to make. To deliberately ram your car, to drive it off the road to abort the pursuit, or allow you to continue in the face of oncoming traffic onto the dual carriage.

“He saw there was traffic on road where the national speed limit is 70mph and worked out in those moments that if he let you carry on, there was likely to be an impact speed of 120mph, head on.”

He added: “It was a highly commendable act of bravery. This officer put his own life at risk to protect members of the public from what I consider would have been almost certain death or injury.”

The Northern Echo: JAILED: Daniel HendersonJAILED: Daniel Henderson

Sentencing Henderson to the “maximum the law would allow”, the judge said his driving had been “absolutely horrendous”.

He said: “It is about as bad a case of dangerous driving as one can imagine. The aggravating features of that driving are that you can’t drive, because you haven’t got a licence and have never taken a test, also this was driving subject to a police pursuit.

“You were on license at the time for a similar offence, you were driving with excess alcohol and your previous convictions are for similar driving offences.”

Henderson appeared via video link from the nearby city jail, having previously admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, plus driving with excess alcohol and without insurance.

The court was told Henderson failed to stop despite the flashing blue light and siren of PC Garside’s police vehicle.

Rupert Doswell, prosecuting, said the Clio was travelling at increasingly higher speeds throughout the pursuit, reaching in excess of 100mph shortly before the culmination of the chase.

Henderson had also taken a roundabout in the wrong direction, repeatedly crossed the centre white line, made haphazard overtaking manoeuvres, at times forcing drivers heading in the opposite direction to take evasive action,

After the Clio was rammed off the road, careering into tree, it narrowly missing a car coming in the opposite direction.

The driver of that car said in a statement: “I simply stopped my car, gripped the steering wheel and braced for the impact.

“I was sure the car was going to hit us. It could could’ve potentially killed my wife and I. The whole experience was absolutely terrifying.”

Henderson, who failed a breath test, and a passenger were arrested at the scene

The court was told Henderson, formerly of Station Road, Easington Colliery, has served previous prison sentences for dangerous driving and other motoring offences.

Neil Bennett, mitigating, said Henderson, who had experienced a difficult childhood which led to drug abuse, was going through a period of trying to rebuild his life.

The judge dismissed Henderson’s expression of remorse as “nothing more than self pity.”

He said: “”I emphasise, the maximum sentence available to a court in any dangerous driving case, however many times someone may have driven dangerously before, is two years in jail - whatever risk they have placed the public in respect of injury or death.”

Henderson, who claimed he had been driving the car for someone else to write of a drug debt, was given consecutive sentences for dangerous driving and driving while disqualified, amounting to 22 months and two weeks. It included a slight discount for pleading guilty.

The other offences were taken into account.

He was also disqualified from driving for three years, with effect from when he is released, and will have to sit an extended driving test before he can get a licence.