A DRUG driver who took police on a high speed chase with sparks flying from the front of his car has been banned from the roads for 18 months.

Jack Liddle was reported to police for causing problems in Redcar and when he was approached by officers he fled off in his Ford Ka.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 30-year-old drove at speeds in excess of 70mph in residential areas as he attempted to evade capture.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said the chase started on Lord Street before heading through the town centre on West Dyke Road towards the A174 where the pursuit finally came to an end.

She said: "The officer thought he could smell alcohol but he was under the legal limit. He was arrested and charged with dangerous driving and later arrested for driving under the influence of drugs."

Liddle, of Tempest Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to both charges when he appeared in court.

Nicci Horton, mitigating, said the problem happened following an argument with his girlfriend after the death of a friend who had cried out for his help.

She said: "What appears to have been the trigger was the suicide of his good friend a week or so before the offences occurred."

Judge Paul Watson QC sentenced Liddle to eight months in custody, suspended for 12 months.

He said: "It was a very gross piece of dangerous driving, thankfully there was no one seriously injured."