AN uninsured young driver, who led police on a dangerous 15-minute chase, escaped an immediate custodial sentence, so he can retain a full-time job.

Durham Crown Court was told Alex Paul Breeze, then 21, was convicted for failing to stop for police after an accident, in November last year.

Only months later, police officers, in an unmarked car, spotted him at the wheel of a silver Vauxhall Astra, on the B1284, in Hetton-le-Hole, at 2.55am on May 17.

Sam Faulks, prosecuting, told a previous hearing that although the police vehicle’s blue flashing lights were illuminated, “the defendant chose not to stop”.

Breeze, with a passenger on board, then drove on the wrong side of the road, contravened two red lights, took a roundabout in the wrong direction, turned corners blindly and reached speeds of 70-plus miles per hour on 30-limit roads in residential areas of Hetton-le-Hole and Houghton-le-Spring.

When the Astra came to a halt on a grassed area on a dead end road, Breeze tried to make off but was caught by police and found to be in possession of a bag of cocaine.

Mr Faulks said: “Thankfully, it was the dead of night and he came across only one other civilian driver, heading in the opposite direction.”

The Astra was not damaged, but sparks were seen flying from its wheels during the chase.

Breeze, now 22, of Longfellow Street, Houghton-le-Spring, admitted dangerous driving, while uninsured and possession of a class A drug.

David Callan, for Breeze, put his driving down to “immaturity” and said: “He doesn’t have a record as long-as-your-arm and has had long-term employment for three years, as a tyre fitter for Kwik Fit.

Mr Callan said it was in the public interest to enable him to retain the job, which he would lose if jailed.

Following confirmation from his manager that Breeze does not require a full driving licence to work as a tyre fitter, Judge Ray Singh said it would, otherwise, have been an eight-month prison sentence.

But he agreed to suspend it for two years, during which Breeze must take part in up to 20 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service, complete 180-hours’ unpaid work and serve a 12-month driving ban.

He was also ordered to pay £250 court costs.