A JAGUAR driver who caused a three-car crash and drove off from the scene has been sentenced at court.

Ian Roy French was driving his four-year-old blue Jaguar along West Auckland Road towards Shildon when he crashed into another Jaguar and a VW Polo.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court heard that the 54-year-old had been out with a friend and had drank "two or three pints."

Saba Shan, prosecuting, said: "At around 7.30pm on Friday, May 3, there was a three vehicle collision caused by excessive speed.

"The defendant's blue jaguar was described by witnesses as being out of control."

French accelerated away from the scene after the crash making no attempt to stop and didn't report the incident to police until the following day.

The driver of the VW Polo was taken to hospital in an ambulance and said she suffered painful whiplash.

A witness statement read out to the court from the other Jaguar driver said: "I am in shock and I am upset that he could damage my car, my pride and joy. My car is 15-years-old but is in very good condition and I don't want to go through my insurer because I fear they will write it off. I'm going to have to pay to have it repaired."

Julian King, mitigating, said French had no previous convictions and has held down employment for 38 years.

He added: "It's entirely out of character and he feels thoroughly ashamed. He left the scene and went home and then realised that he must go to the police station, which he did the next day.

"He realises that he should have done that at the scene."

Chair of the Bench, Colin Beadle, said had French stayed at the scene police would have taken a sample of breath from him.

A probation officer said: "He tells me he is extremely ashamed that he could put himself in that situation.

"He finished work at 4.30pm and went to meet a friend in Bishop Auckland, he admitted that he had had a bit to drink, two or three pints. He left at 6.30pm to go home and he believes he was within the drink drive limit."

He pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after a road accident on Tuesday, August 20.

Mr Beadle said: "We are looking at two serious offences, the more important one is the failing to stop after the crash.

"A lady was taken to hospital on a stretcher and you left the scene and drove off."

French, of Drybourne Avenue, Shildon, was given a 12 month community order and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was also disqualified from driving for nine months and fined £450. He must also pay £85 costs and £85 victim surcharge.