A man "in a bad place" led police on a pursuit around a town's street while over the drink/drive limit, a court heard.

Police on their way to deal with another issue involving defendant Michael Hopps saw a black Vauxhall Astra driving from Dean Road onto Lime Road, in Ferryhill, shortly before 8pm, on September 4, 2022.

Durham Crown Court heard that a dog was seen in the car and Hopps was identified as the driver, so the blue flashing lights were activated on the police vehicle, signalling for him to stop.

Deborah Smithies, prosecuting, said that Hopps ignored the request to stop and made a left turn before coming to a halt on the corner of a junction with Broom Road.

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The police car also came to a stop and an officer got out intending to speak to the defendant.

But Hopps began to edge his car forward so the officer returned to his vehicle and the defendant then drove away at speed.

He proceeded onto the main street and then made a sharp left-hand turn, before overtaking cars in front of him, also at speed.

The police pursuers said Hopps appeared to show no consideration for the safety of others on the road and the officers briefly lost sight of the Astra.

Miss Smithies said a police community support officer saw Hopps driving with a dog in the car on Coniston Road and alerted his mobile colleagues, who soon reached the scene.

Hopps, in the meantime, had got out of the car and sat down while holding the dog’s lead.

Another officer struggled to put the handcuffs on him, but eventually they were applied in the front stack position.

He was put in the police car and, on being escorted from the vehicle, he kicked an officer in the left leg, before being taken into custody, where he gave a lowest reading breath sample which was three times over the limit for driving.

The officer who was kicked said it caused instant pain and while in his line of duty he expects to face confrontational situations, he did not go to work to be assaulted.

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Miss Smithies said at different stages in proceedings 37-year-old Hopps, formerly of Watt Street, Ferryhill, admitted charges of dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol, plus assault of an emergency worker and obstructing a police constable.

The court heard that the defendant has 29 convictions for 47 offences, including some for violence, resisting and obstructing police, but also two for driving with excess alcohol.

In assessing the level of the offence, Miss Smithies said it was “prolonged bad driving”, with a police pursuit around residential streets, but “fortunately” there was no injury or damage caused.

She said there were a number of delays with the case proceeding for various reasons and the defendant, now living in the Manchester area, has been in custody after execution of a warrant for an earlier failure to appear at court, on May 20.

Kelly Clarke, in mitigation, presented three character references to the court on his behalf and said the defendant conceded to her that it was, “foolish behaviour”.

“He has had difficulties with relationships.

“He hasn’t had many but has taken it badly whenever they have ended in the past.

“At the time of this he wasn’t in a good place and he's now full of remorse.”

Miss Clarke said the defendant now has a new partner and is helping her to run a pub in the Manchester area.

“He’s finally sorted himself out and is doing long shifts helping in the new business.

“He’s working hard, enjoying himself and is now in a good place, with no issues.”

She said if he was to receive a non-custodial sentence he would comply with any terms and conditions.

Judge Gavin Doig said given what he has read and heard about the defendant he would be prepared to pass a sentence enabling him to be released from prison.

Judge Doig told Hopps: “On September 4, 2022, police wanted to speak to you and you, clearly, didn’t want to speak to them.

“You stopped and started that vehicle and played the fool, driving with no consideration to others and putting other road users at risk.

“It was extreme good fortune no-one was injured.

“You were eventually arrested after you parked the vehicle.

“Police arrived and detained you and, once again, you played the fool and wouldn’t co-operate with the arrest and kicked a police constable.

“You have a long list of previous convictions, but I have read a pre-sentence probation report and seen references from three people who speak highly of you.

“There are grounds to believe you are turning your life around and I sincerely hope that is the case.

“I accept you were in a difficult place in your personal life at the time.

“But you have moved away to Manchester and have a new partner and a new life, and I’ll give you a chance today, but one you scarcely deserve.”

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He imposed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 30 rehabilitation activity days to complete under the supervision of the Probation Service.

Judge Doig also ordered Hopps to undergo 30 days on a ‘thinking skills’ course, while he must comply with a six-month alcohol treatment requirement.

The judge said he hopes the defendant continues to progress and told him: “I sincerely hope we never meet again,” but added that he would reserve any breaches of the order to be dealt with by himself.