THREE police officers suffered injuries when a disqualified driver deliberately targeted them with his 4x4 following a high-speed chase.

Elroy McArthur's rampage around Darlington started when the unqualified driver ploughed into the rear of a car near the Dalesman pub on Victoria Road just before lunchtime on Saturday, November 16.

The 23-year-old attempted to flee the scene but the woman who's car he smashed into followed him before he reversed at her car forcing her to quickly get out of the way.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court that McArthur then drove along Park Lane at high-speed ignoring the traffic calming bumps before crashing into the rear of another car.

As result of the second collision two motorists followed the defendant in their vehicles as he headed toward Neasham Road where two police vehicles were attempting to block the road and prevent his escape.

Mr Baker said: "He (one of the drivers) saw the 4x4 approach the roundabout and he didn't seem to slow down and drove directly between the gap in between the two police vehicles.

"He saw the 4x4 make contact with the door and knock it out of the way – the 4x4 forced its way through."

The impact resulted in one of the officers being trapped between the vehicles by his leg and the other two officers also suffered injuries.

McArthur's high-speed escape continued as he headed along the A66 up to Morton Park before driving along Yarm Road and McMullen Road, at speeds of up to 80mph, before coming to a shuddering stop when he crashed into a lamppost.

The defendant, of Fenby Avenue, Darlington, pleaded guilty to three charges of assault with intent to cause actual bodily harm, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified, no insurance, failing to stop after an accident and failing to provide a specimen.

In mitigation, Michele Turner, said her client was 'woefully under qualified' to drive and he had been given 'one chance only' by his partner who is expecting their child.

Judge Howard Crowson jailed McArthur for a total of 20months and disqualified him from driving for a further two years.

He said: "Don't drive again as you're obviously not very good at it."

McArthur replied: "I know, I'm sorry."

A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “Police officers work to serve and protect the people within their communities – acts of violence towards them are as unacceptable as they are to members of the public and can never be justified.

“However, all too often our officers are subject to assaults in the line of duty, for simply doing their job and it will not be tolerated.

“We take assaults against police officers very seriously and will take action against those who abuse and attack the very people who are there to keep them safe.”