A FATHER who stole more than £800 worth of petrol and crashed into a car whilst driving into oncoming traffic during a police chase has been jailed.

Scott Watt was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he drove on the wrong side of the road and sped along footpaths in an attempt to escape the police last December.

The 29-year-old, who was driving without a licence or insurance, was arrested after his car smashed into another vehicle – but he went on to steal more than £800 worth of petrol whilst on bail.

Teesside Crown Court heard Watt from Hartlepool filled the tanks of six vehicles with petrol and drove off without paying eight times over a four month period.

Dr Christopher Wood, prosecuting, said: “Two police officers noticed the defendant drive past at speed. They activated their lights and sirens in the attempt to make him pull over. He failed to do so and continued driving through Hartlepool at speed using dangerous means and putting members of the public at risk.

“He undertook a U-turn using the wrong side of the carriageway, going in the line of traffic. He went into a 30mph one which houses a local school, public facilities, community centre and has public housing nearby. The defendant reached speeds of up to 70mph.

“He drove on the wrong side of the road, drove along a public footpath at the time a dog walker was passing by and he drove through bollards. The police noticed sparks come from underneath the vehicle.

“He again went off the road and drove through a pedestrianised zone then drove onto oncoming traffic, forcing others to drive slowly or use emergency brakes to avoid a collision he could have potentially caused.

“He then tried to go off road for a third time but failed when he collided with a vehicle and bollards. He came to a stop but when police officers saw he was going to get off the seat, they arrested him as soon as possible to prevent him from running away.

“It was later discovered he was driving no insurance and no licence.”

Dr Wood said between December 2018 and April 2019 – whilst on bail – Watt “continuously drove vehicles into petrol forecourts in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Blackhall and Peterlee, took petrol and left without giving any form of payment.

"It is prolific offending.”

He added in total Watt took £828 worth of petrol whilst driving without insurance or a licence.

But James Howard, defending, said Watt hopes to turn his life around following the birth of his son.

He said: “Thankfully no one was injured as a result of the appealing driving. He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. While it was premeditated offending it was by no means sophisticated. It was quite stupid offending, it was only ever going to lead him to court.”

Watt, of Wynyard Mews, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and to the majority of his other charges, including eight counts of making off without payment, driving without a licence, driving without insurance and failure to surrender in court.

He was sentenced by Judge Deborah Sherwin to 18 months in prison and is disqualified from driving for three years and nine months.