A BANNED teenage driver involved in a short police chase at the wheel of his father’s car has been given a “final chance” to avoid a custodial sentence.

James Wilson received a six-month driving disqualification in February.

But Durham Crown Court heard he was seen in a Skoda car which was being driven erratically in Darlington, at mid-day on May 17.

A police car followed and officers activated its lights and siren, but Wilson failed to stop.

Omar Ahmad, prosecuting, said the Skoda reached more than 70-miles per hour on 30-limit roads, overtaking several vehicles and at one blind corner caused an oncoming car to swerve to avoid a collision.

Mr Ahmad said Wilson drove the wrong way around a traffic island, before the police pursuers lost site of the car.

An area search was carried out and the Skoda was found abandoned in a cul-de-sac.

The defendant and his passenger were located in nearby store premises and were arrested, although no action was taken against the passenger.

When he was to be interviewed, Wilson made a statement saying he was the driver, while the registered keeper of the car was his father.

Wilson, 18, of Honeypot Lane, Darlington, admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, failing to stop for police and no insurance.

The court heard he has three previous convictions for six offences, among which are recent driving matters, including failing to stop for police, no insurance and vehicle interference.

Vic Laffey, mitigating, said Wilson, who suffers adhd, only turned 18 shortly before the offence and has never been behind bars.

“Fortunately for him, despite being a bad piece of driving, it was relatively short and no-one was injured.”

Mr Laffey said having spoken to Wilson’s parents, who attended at court with him, he could tell the court that the offence took place on the day of a family tragedy and the whole family were, “in complete chaos.”

“It seems he reacts very badly in times of family stress and did something foolish, getting into the car.”

Judge James Adkin told Mr Laffey: “I might be minded to give him one final chance.”

He told Wilson: “It was a relatively short police chase and no injury was caused, fortunately.

“I’ve seen a detailed report and read of the steps you have taken, referring yourself to a drug agency to deal with one aspect of your problem behaviour.

“Although the report is not completely glowing, you have made reasonable progress.

“By a hair’s breadth I’m not sending you to custody for this bad piece of driving.”

He passed an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years, with a three-month 7pm to 7am home curfew and 20-probation activity days.

Banning Wilson from driving for a year, Judge Adkin told him: “For a young man with an interest in motor vehicles, taking cocaine is a bad thing.”