A YOUNG unlicensed driver aroused the suspicion of a police patrol car officer by slouching down at the wheel of a BMW at a petrol filling station, a court was told.

Adam Kennedy, who was not recognised by the officer, was seen in the driver’s seat of the BMW at the Villa Real Filling Station, on the A692, on the outskirts of Consett, late on January 15.

Durham Crown Court heard that it was the actions of Kennedy, in apparently trying to hide from view by sliding down the seat, that sparked the officer’s interest.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said the police driver waited for the car to leave the petrol station, on the A692, and began to follow, soon indicating, making it clear to Kennedy that he wanted him to stop.

Kennedy failed to respond to the request, accelerating onto a 60-limit stretch of road, where the officer estimated the BMW was travelling at 80-mph.

It went on to Leadgate, turning onto the A691, heading towards Durham, by now accelerating to 90-mph, seemingly causing Kennedy difficulty in maintaining safe control of the car, on blind bends on darkened roads

Kennedy then turned off Woodside Bank onto Stockerley Lane, heading back towards Consett via Delves Lane, but then made another right turn into Briar Dale, a residential area.

Miss Masters said the BMW suddenly braked heavily and stopped.

By the time the officer caught up to the now stationery BMW Kennedy had “decamped” and could not be seen.

But a check on the police files traced the registered keeper of the BMW to an address in Briar Dale.

Miss Masters said the officer went to that address and his knock was answered by a female, but Kennedy was also present at the property.

The officer recognised him as the driver of the BMW and he was arrested.

He told police he was staying at that address at the time and had been asleep, claiming the first he knew of the chase was when the officer woke him.

But, by the time the case reached court, the 21-year-old defendant, of Surrey Crescent, Moorside, Consett, admitted dangerous driving and no insurance.

Richard Herrmann, mitigating, said Kennedy has no previous convictons or cautions and has worked as a landscape gardener until recently losing his job.

The court heard a probation report stating he has no alcohol or drug issues and is not considered a serious risk of reoffending.

Judge James Adkin told Kennedy the usual fate following police chases is for the driver to spend time behind bars.

But, although a “pretty serious” piece of driving, putting at risk himself, his police pursuers and other road users, the judge said as Kennedy is not thought to pose a reoffending risk he could suspend the nine-month prison sentence for two years.

He also imposed a six-month 8pm to 6am home curfew and banned Kennedy from driving for a year.