A teenager who drove dangerously in a police chase has been set the challenge of remaining out of trouble until next March to maintain his liberty.

James Lee was given the incentive of “keeping his nose clean” for the next six months to avoid a one-year custodial sentence.

It follows the 19-year-old defendant’s guilty plea to a charge of dangerous driving, put to him when he appeared before magistrates last month.

The case was sent to Durham Crown Court, where the sentencing hearing was given details of the offence, dating from October 18, last year.

Read more: BMW driven in chase with police from Durham found outside address in Washington

Christopher Bevan, prosecuting, said shortly after midday police in a marked vehicle in the Shotton Colliery area noticed a black Vauxhall Vectra pass them in the opposite direction.

As the officers suspected there was no proper documentation in place for that vehicle they tried to stop the Vectra.

But, Mr Bevan said the Vectra failed to stop, leading to a pursuit which lasted more than ten minutes in daylight hours when the roads were busy with traffic.

Mr Bevan told the court: “It was a clear attempt to get away”, as Lee accelerated on Station Road up to 70-miles per hour in a 30-limit area.

Turning onto Salters Lane, travelling in the direction of Wingate, the Vectra reached speeds up to 80-mph on a 40-limit road.

Once in Wingate, Lee drove straight across a mini roundabout and mounted the pavement, seemingly without concern as to whether any pedestrians may be in his path.

Mr Bevan said, as it was, there were not, but Lee then travelled at high speed past a primary school, where pedestrians were present.

At one stage Lee tried to squeeze the Vectra between two vehicles, making contact with one, a Renault Clio, causing it damage.

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

There reached a stage where it was thought Lee could be detained, but as an officer approached the Vectra, he pulled away, colliding with the front of the front of the police vehicle in doing so.

Mr Bevan said Lee drove on to his own home, where he got out and ran into the house, while a female passenger also alighted.

Officers went into the house and detained Lee.

Mr Bevan said the defendant, of Dunelm Road, Trimdon Village, has no previous offences on his licence.

Having read a probation report on Lee prepared for the hearing, Judge James Adkin told him: “The reason we are here is that the magistrates sent the case to me as they thought their powers were insufficient.

“You are 19, with previous good character.

“You fall to be sentenced for a serious case of dangerous driving.

“Frequently, in this court, we hear cases where that sort of driving leads to serious injury or death.

“It crosses the custody threshold and after trial the sentence would have been 18-months, but with credit for your guilty plea, the sentence would have been 12 months.

“But since then, you have taken significant steps to tackle issues plaguing you, and you have work and a girlfriend due to give birth, with whom you wish to set up home.

“You are still young and I’ll give you a chance to see if you can stay out of trouble.”

Deferring sentence for six months, Judge Adkin imposed an interim driving disqualification and warned Lee that if he drives within the next six months or commits another offence, he will be sent to prison immediately.

The defendant was bailed to return to court on March 10.

Read next:

Bishop Auckland driver jailed after reaching 110mph in chase

Banned driver sped past police car on A1(M) in County Durham

Police abandoned high-speed chase in County Durham village on safety grounds

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