A JUDGE took a “truly exceptional course” and imposed a community sentence on a dangerous driver, due to his state of mind when he got behind the wheel.

Durham Crown Court heard that concerned members of Tony Brown’s family alerted police when he left home in his car on the evening of January 19, fearing he may be intending to harm himself.

The incident became a pursuit of Brown’s Ford Mondeo, who refused to stop for police, driving dangerously at up to 70-miles per hour, in the Stanley area.

It ended when he pulled up near his home, in Potter Place, a cul-de-sac, where he abandoned the Mondeo.

He was arrested after a short pursuit on foot and told officers he “panicked” on seeing the police vehicles.

Brown, 20, who has no previous convictions, admitted dangerous driving.

The hearing, in March, was told Brown had mental health issues triggered after his grandmother’s death, 2016, but was offered no bereavement counselling at the time, and had also broken up with a partner.

He was said to be going to drive to the graveyard where his grandmother was buried.

Judge Christopher Prince deferred sentence for six months to enable the defendant to continue to address the difficulties behind the events of January 19.

Returning to court yesterday, his counsel, Lewis Kerr said Brown continued to hold down his council job, remained drug and alcohol-free and sold his car the day after the previous hearing.

Having read up-dated reports on Brown’s progress since the last hearing, Judge Christopher Prince said: “Defendants coming before this court for failing to stop when requested to do so by police almost without exception go to prison.

“But, this is a truly exceptional case. You had a complete breakdown on that evening and that’s why you drove as you did.

“Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and I’m confident with the proper guidance of the Probation Service you won’t repeat this sort of behaviour.”

The judge imposed a three-year community order, to include 30-rehabilitation sessions with the Probation Service, ten each year, and banned Brown from driving for 19 months.