CONCERNED motorists made emergency calls to police when they saw a Land Rover Freelander heading south on a motorway's northbound carriageway, a court heard yesterday.

Magistrates heard that the Freelander, driven by Philip McAteer, of West View Farm, Cockfield, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, was first seen on the A1 at Sinderby, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, at 3.05am on May 10, with the next sighting two miles away at Baldersby.

There, a motorist tried to over-take a vehicle and was confronted by McAteer, 33, coming towards him at 40 to 50mph.

Ten minutes later, police saw the vehicle at Dishforth, where the road becomes a three-lane motorway, and followed it, Harrogate magistrates were told.

McAteer ignored the police car's blue lights and headlights and it was not until he reached Allerton Park, near Knaresborough, that he stopped.

McAteer, who at the time lived in High Street, in Aycliffe village, County Durham, apologised to officers, who said he travelled almost 12 miles on the wrong carriageway.

A breath test revealed he had drunk one-and-a-half times the legal alcohol limit.

McAteer pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, drink-driving and failing to answer bail. A charge of failing to stop for police was dropped.

McAteer's solicitor, Richard Reed, said only the drink had been an aggravating factor. He said McAteer had been driving steadily, not speeding, and that the road had been quiet.

Court chairwoman Jane Garlick ordered probation reports to be prepared on McAteer, and Mr Reed said he would commission a psychiatric report into his client.

He was bailed to return for sentence on September 16 and has been banned from driving in the meantime.