A DANGEROUS driver who crashed into a wall as he attempted to flee the police has been given a suspended prison sentence.

James Flounders reached speeds in excess of 50mph in a 30 zone after he panicked and sped away when the police activated their blue lights, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 29-year-old was driving the Vauxhall Vectra with his partner inside when he smashed into the wall on Kingsley Avenue, Hartlepool, on September 2 last year.

Phillip Morley, prosecuting, said the vehicle belonged to the brother of Flounders' girlfriend but he had not given the defendant permission to drive it.

He told the court that the police chase occurred on residential streets including Masefield Road and Kingsley Avenue before it came to an abrupt end.

"The police followed the defendant's vehicle, he continued to drive at high speeds and overtaking forcing oncoming cars to move out of the way.

"He continued down Browning Avenue at 50mph before losing control on Kingsley Avenue and hitting a wall."

Flounders, of Kendal Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to offences of aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving and having no licence or third party insurance.

In mitigation, Stephen Constantine said: "The dangerous driving came about because he panicked. It wasn't the longest of police chases that this court has previously encountered.

"Thankfully, it would appear that nobody was hurt."

Judge Paul Watson, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, passed a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and banned him from driving for 18 months.

He said: "You have previous convictions including driving without insurance and convictions in 2017 for which you were disqualified from driving for 12 months.

"You were seen driving the vehicle in an erratic manner, the police activated their lights and siren and you sped off.

"You were driving at excessive speed in a built up area."