AN unqualified driver posed a “genuine and imminent risk” to other road users, twice reaching “grossly excessive” speeds in police chases in a nine-day period, a court heard.

Anthony Beamson, who has nothing either previously or since on his record, committed the “inexplicable” offences, driving the wrong way down both the A1(M) and A19 in County Durham, and ramming a police car, in August last year

Durham Crown Court heard the first incident took place after he was pulled over at the wheel of a Kia Carens on the A167 just south of the city.

He was tested at the roadside for both drink and drugs, shortly after midnight on Sunday, August 8, 2021.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said it emerged later the drug swipe test proved positive and Beamson would have been arrested.

But, having been allowed to sit in his car while the result was awaited, he chose to drive off at speed southbound on the A167.

In the next few minutes, with police following, Beamson took several roundabouts in the wrong direction and went through red lights, drove along a footpath and reversed into the direction of a police vehicle, before performing a handbrake turn.

Mr Dryden said an officer had to jump out of the way of the Kia at one stage, on a grass verge, while Beamson also rammed into a police vehicle, causing damage to the passenger door.

He, then, disappeared from police view, having apparently driven the wrong way on the A690 and onto theA1(M).

Mr Dryden said the Kia was next sighted, with a damaged front side bumper from the previous collision with police, being driven in Surtees Road, Peterlee, at 10.10am on August 17, 2021.

Beamson sped off at 60-miles per hour on 30-limit roads, squeezed through bollards to evade police, again drove in the wrong direction at a roundabout and then entered the A19, heading in the wrong direction, travelling northwards on the southbound carriageway, against oncoming traffic.

Police chose to abandon the chase due to the potential danger of the situation.

Mr Dryden said the Kia was located and seized by police at an address in South Hetton, the following day.

Read more: Driver abandoned car after police chase in County Durham

The, now, 26-year-old defendant, of Hawthorn Cottages, South Hetton, admitted two counts of dangerous driving, plus other offences of no licence, or insurance, at a plea hearing in April, after which the case was adjourned for preparation of probation and psychiatric reports.

Dan Cordey, for Beamson, told the court: “He’s 26 and before the court because he was out driving when he shouldn’t have been.

“His reaction to the police stopping him and the fact he drove away is linked to his mental health difficulties, as illustrated by the fact he’s not someone often seen in a criminal court, with no offending history.

“He’s committed two inexplicable offences.

“He accepts he reacted in an utterly wrong manner, and, thankfully, it could have been much worse.”

Mr Cordey said the defendant’s mental health issues stem from a difficult background and upbringing.

But Judge James Adkin told Mr Cordey that whatever his background, the offences committed by Beamson were, “really bad.”

“He posed a genuine and imminent risk of injury to other road users, including the police officers

“He drove at grossly excessive speeds and performed by far and away the most dangerous driving manoeuvre in going against the oncoming traffic."

Addressing the defendant, Judge Adkin said: “It seems to me you do present a risk to the public.

“One might have thought that, after the events of August 8 last year, you wouldn’t have been tempted to get behind the wheel of a car again.”

Imposing a 16-month prison sentence, the judge also banned Beamson from driving for two years and made a deprivation order for his Kia Carens.

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