A DANGEROUS driver was spared an immediate prison sentence purely because he is the sole carer for his 10-year-old son.

Thomas Stephen Watson was told it was his “lucky day” when he escaped a stretch behind bars, despite having led police on a pursuit round residential roads, back lanes and across a field in mid-afternoon in Horden.

The 28-year-old defendant appeared at Durham Crown Court on a committal for sentence having previously admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

It related to a three minute-long chase by a police patrol vehicle of a Saab car driven by Watson, at 2.30pm on March 7.

Phillip Morley, prosecuting, said it involved several tight turns and driving straight out from junctions without slowing.

At one point the Saab collided with the wall of a house in Fifth Street, but still carried on with the police vehicle following.

Mr Morley said having crossed a grassed area, Watson struck another wall and came to rest.

Although he and a passenger got out and ran from the scene, they were chased, and Watson was detained and arrested.

When he was interviewed he told police he bought the vehicle only a week earlier for £600 and claimed he “just panicked” on seeing the blue lights of the patrol car.

The court was told Watson, of North View, Easington Lane, has 17 offences on his record, including a conviction for dangerous driving, with excess alcohol, earning him the disqualification, in 2016.

Alex Burns, mitigating, the irony was that he bought the car to begin taking driving lessons with a view to passing the mandatory extended driving test for banned motorists.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said that appeared to be a case of, “putting the horse before the cart”.

Judge Carroll told Watson someone could easily have been injured or worse given the time of day, the residential nature of the streets where the chase took place and his manner of driving.

He said it merited an immediate prison sentence, but the judge added: “Just about the only thing that stops me is that you have sole care of your son, who needs you around.”

Judge Carroll passed a ten-month sentence, suspended for two years, banned him from driving for a further 18 months and ordered him to undergo 260-hours’ unpaid work, with £200 compensation to the householder whose wall he damaged.

Watson was also given a three-month 7pm to 7am electronically monitored home curfew, from Monday to Friday.

The judge added: “Understand this, if you breach the order you’ll be back before me and you’ll have no chances left.

“It’s your lucky day, but I’m only doing it for your son’s sake, not for yours.”