POLICE say a drug dealer's "selfish actions", trying to evade police in his speeding car, causing a serious injury to a young horse rider, could have had more serious consequences.

Connor Philip Mitchell, who was in possession of cocaine, drove off dangerously at speed while trying to evade a pursuing police car, a court heard.

But in doing so, Mitchell drove his Audi A3 on and off road, endangering pedestrians including playing children, and also startling a horse being ridden on a public footpath on Salters Lane, between South Hetton and Shotton Colliery.

Durham Crown Court was told that as the car did not appear to be slowing, the young rider decided to try to dismount, but as she was doing so she was thrown onto the bonnet of the passing Audi, on which she was carried for a short distance.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said the 12-year-old girl eventually slid from the bonnet to the ground, fracturing her collar bone with the impact.

Miss Atkinson said Mitchell carried on for some distance before coming to a halt and dismounting the car.

But he was detained in the area a short time later and found to be in possession of bags of white powder.

They were seized and, on examination, it was discovered there was a total of 8.82g of cocaine in 12 grip-sealed bags, while dealer’s-style lists of names and numbers were found on Mitchell’s phone.

In interview with police he made no comment to all questions.

Miss Atkinson said the incident arose after a police officer on mobile patrol in Shotton Colliery tried to stop Mitchell in the Audi A3 at 3.25pm on Thursday July 30, last year.

Mitchell faild to stop and made off at excessive speed, causing other road users and general members of the public in the area to take evasive action.

He drove at an estimated 60-miles per hour on 30-limit roads around the village, leaving the carriageway and crossing public green areas before rejoining the road.

Mitchell was also observed making dangerous overtaking manoeuvres, causing oncoming vehicles to give way, before the incident involving the horse rider.

The 22-year-old defendant, of Elliott Road, Peterlee, was charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving and possessing cocaine with intent to supply.

He admitted the driving offence at a plea hearing on May 4, and also pleaded guilty to the drug charge at the outset of the sentencing hearing.

Judge Ray Singh imposed prison sentences of 31 months for the driving injury offence and 20 months for the drug matter, but made them consecutive, meaning Mitchell’s full custodial term is one of four years and three months, of which he will serve up to half before being released on licence.

Mitchell was also banned from driving for 61 months and will only be permitted to drive lawfully beyond then, if he passes an extended re-test.

Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Sharon Alderson said: “Mitchell’s selfish actions resulted in an innocent member of the public being injured, and it goes without saying that the consequences could have been even more serious.

“His sentencing sends a clear message that we will not tolerate those who put our community at risk through reckless driving, or who look to use the roads for criminal purposes.”