A man who led police on a high-speed car chase while under the influence of cannabis and cocaine has been given three months to keep his nose clean and address his drug issues.

The ultimatum was given to defendant Alan Armstrong after he admitted dangerous driving, driving while unfit through drugs and no insurance.

Durham Crown Court heard that the 30-year-old defendant, of Derby Drive, Consett, was at the wheel of a Ford Focus which came to police attention near Stanley Crook, on Saturday on May 13, at about 4.45pm.

Liam O’Brien, prosecuting, said during the following 23 minutes the Focus, driven by Armstrong with three passengers, failed to stop for police, reached speeds of between 90 and 100-miles per hour, overtook in dangerous areas, cut corners blindly, nearly hitting a cyclist and two elderly pedestrians, and, at times, drove down the wrong carriageway.

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Police were following though Brancepeth, Brandon, Meadowfield and Langley Moor, before turning towards Broom Park and Ushaw Moor and then onwards to Esh Winning, and across to the A68.

Mr O’Brien said there were two points where police tried to block the Focus in, but Armstrong managed to manoeuvre around force vehicles, nearly causing a collision.

Having gone down a back lane in Castleside, the Focus was eventually followed by two pursuing police vehicles, backed by aerial support from a force helicopter, down a dirt track on the outskirts of Consett, before Armstrong stopped and decamped.

He was chased on foot and caught, providing police with a positive roadside swipe test for the presence of drugs in his system.

When interviewed he admitted having taken cannabis and cocaine during the day prior to the chase and he conceded that what his driving was, “dangerous and wrong”.

Michele Turner, in mitigation, said it was to the defendant’s credit that there was no attempt to “minimise” his behaviour, immediately assisting police upon arrest and pleading guilty promptly at court.

Miss Turner said he is “lightly convicted” with only one past motoring offence.

She said he has had some mental health issues and has suffered with deductions in his benefits this year.

Recorder Mark Giuliani said in many ways he could consider the taking of drugs before driving as a separate offence over and above the manner of driving, bringing the likely sentence close to the two-year limit.

But, having heard representations from Ms Turner, and after remanding the defendant in custody over the court lunch adjournment, Recorder Giuliani agreed to defer sentencing him for three months.

He said, however, that during that time he must start to address his drug issues, find permanent fixed accommodation and speak to his GP to determine what sort of unpaid work he would be able to perform.

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The Recorder told Ms Turner: “If the outcomes are positive, the sentence will be suspended, but, if not, he’ll face an immediate custodial sentence.”

Addressing Armstrong, Recorder Giuliani said: “It’s probably clear that I find this offending extremely serious.

“But. I’m persuaded the sentence should be deferred to give you the ability to take positive action to address your drug addiction and to seek permanent housing, as well as speak to your GP to see what sort of unpaid work you would be suitable for.

“If you comply, the custodial sentence is likely to be suspended.

“If not, it will be imposed.”

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Armstrong must return to court to learn his fate on Thursday September 28.

He is, in the meantime, subject to an interim driving ban.

The exact length of the disqualification will be determined at the sentencing hearing.