The son of a motor business owner “blotted his copy book” and caused a rift with his father after becoming involved in an eight-minute police car chase.

Durham Crown Court heard that police had reason to believe Henry Ward was driving under the influence of drink or drugs, as he had previously failed to stop for traffic officers earlier on June 3, last year.

Katie Spence, prosecuting, said a patrol officer came across Ward in his Land Rover Discovery at 11.25pm on Yarm Road, Middleton St George.

Despite being signalled to stop, he made off, increasing in speed up to 100-miles per hour, overtaking another vehicle on a bend, driving the wrong way around a traffic island.

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Another patrol officer took over the pursuit on the outskirts of Darlington, and overtook the Land Rover, but the defendant drove around the police vehicle and mounted the pavement, going along a grass verge.

Miss Spence said efforts were made to make a tactical contact with the Discovery, but it resulted in a collision with Ward’s vehicle which was sent spinning 180-degrees, colliding with a wall which was badly damaged, in Cleveland Terrace, Darlington.

Officers detained Ward in the crashed vehicle, in which there was a female passenger.

He tested positive for the presence of cannabis in his system both at the roadside and later at the police station, with a 3.1mg reading compared to the legal limit for driving of 2mg.

Ward was arrested and when interviewed he made no comment.

But, when he appeared at the magistrates’ court, on January 10, the now 21-year-old defendant, of Carmel Road North, Darlington, admitted dangerous driving and driving with excess drugs in his system.

The case was committed to the crown court for sentence.

Miss Spence told the sentencing hearing that the offences were aggravated by the, “blatant disregard” for all the police attempts to persuade him to stop, the manner of aggressive driving, the damage caused to the police vehicles and to the wall, and the presence of drugs in his system.

She said the cost of the damage to the wall amounted to £1,846, with a £200 insurance excess paid by the homeowners, and the repairs to the police vehicle cost the Durham force £5,803.

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Vic Laffey, in mitigation, told the court the defendant was, until now, of good character, is a hard worker and had never troubled anyone previously.

“On the face of it, he’s a good kid.

“As with a lot of dangerous driving offences it starts with a relatively minor offence if only he just stopped, but he didn’t and as it went on it only got worse.

“He’s now facing a sentence which clearly crosses the custody threshold and he’s left himself in a precarious position.”

Mr Laffey said the incident caused a “rift” between the defendant and his father, who has a motor business, which he said was, “now, thankfully, resolved.”

But Mr Laffey told the court: “One of the things very odd about the case is that Henry junior decided to go to Liverpool a few days earlier to buy a car, even though his father runs a motor business.

“That rubbed his dad up the wrong way, and then this happened, putting a strain on the relationship between him and his dad for a few months.

“What happened here is that he simply panicked and ended up driving in a reckless manner.

“He used some cannabis a few days earlier, but he felt alright to drive.”

Having presented various character testimonials to the court, Mr Laffey said: “He’s someone described as of really good character, but who has managed to blot his copy book.”

Mr Laffey said although Ward works for his father, he had been offered a job in Australia which he was unable to take up with his court case pending.

Judge James Adkin told Ward that over the eight minutes of the pursuit he posed, “a significant risk”, of causing injury or even death.

“It was pure good fortune there wasn’t a car coming in your direction when you were on the wrong side of the road or even a man walking his dog because you would have killed them and be facing a 12-year sentence.

“You had a passenger begging you to stop or not to drive in that way.”

But the judge acknowledged Ward’s previous good character and the probation assessment that he poses a low risk of further offending.

Read next:

               Businessman driving BMW M3 led police on car chase from Durham to Washington

               North East police officer's son led force car on six-mile chase

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

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He, therefore, passed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which Ward must attend 30 probation-run activity days and observe a six-month 7pm to 7am home curfew.

The judge also banned Ward from driving for 16 months and he must pass an extended test if he is to legally take to the roads again.

Warning him if he commits a similar offence in future he would be going, “downstairs to prison”, Judge Adkin also ordered Ward to pay £200 towards the costs of the case.