A BANNED teenage driver narrowly escaped a first taste of custody, mainly due to his young age, after a high-speed chase at night.

Graham Jackson reached 100-miles-per-hour trying to out-run a pursuing police vehicle, while struggling to maintain control of a Renault Megane.

Durham Crown Court was told a patrol officer began to keep tabs on the Megane as it passed by on Station Road, Darlington, at 12.25am on December 29.

The officer began to follow as it proceeded onto St Anne’s Terrace, a one-way street, before it turned around and drove back in the wrong direction.

Mr Gittins said it picked up speed on North Road, crossing onto the wrong side of the road and onto a footpath, narrowly avoiding ploughing into shop frontages.

Jackson managed to correct the car and carried on at 70-mph in a 30-limit stretch passing Albert Hill Industrial Estate, driving through a red light.

Mr Gittins said as it headed up the A167 towards the A1(M) junction 59, it reached 90-mph, and, “it was clear the driver was struggling to maintain control.”

Carrying on northwards passing Newton Aycliffe it reached 100-mph on the A167 and turning into the High Street, Chilton, at 80, it went the wrong way around a roundabout, cutting corners, with police on the ground receiving instructions from the now aerial support of a monitoring force helicopter.

The car was abandoned on reaching Ferryhill and the four occupants fled in different directions but all were arrested by 12.40pm.

Mr Gittins said the original police officer who spotted Jackson at the wheel in Darlington was able to pinpoint him as the driver, despite his claim he was not responsible, and that he did not know who owned the car.

He also claimed that he was picked up in Bishop Auckland and was then evasive to other questions.

The court was told the 18-year-old defendant, who was only 17 at the time, was subject to a youth rehabilitation order and a driving disqualification imposed in June last year for careless driving, failing to stop for police and no insurance.

Appearing before magistrates on July 31, Jackson, of School View, Ferryhill, admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

Ian West, mitigating, told the crown court sentencing hearing that Jackson, “could not complain if he was locked up today”.

But, given his age, “immaturity” and the fact, “he has some growing up to do”, Mr West urged Judge Ray Singh to pass a non-custodial sentence.

The judge said he was, “just about persuaded”, to pass 12-month prison sentence, but suspended for two years during which time Jackson must complete 20 probation-overseen rehabilitation activity sessions.

He will be subject of a six-month 7pm to 6am electronically-monitored home curfew.

Jackson was also banned from driving for two years.