AN addict who led police on a high-speed chase through south west Durham was so affected by drugs that he could not produce a blood or urine sample when he was caught.

Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday how Darren Stabler, 28, reached speeds of up to 90mph in a stolen car as he tried to evade traffic police.

Stabler, of Teesdale Walk, Bishop Auckland, was jailed for two-and-a-half years when he admitted a string of crimes including dangerous driving and handling a stolen Honda Civic car.

Judge George Moorhouse, who described Stabler's driving as appalling, also banned him from the roads for three years and ordered him to take an extended driving test.

Prosecutor Ian Bradshaw outlined the ten offences Stabler committed in a three-month spell when he was on licence after being released from prison for a robbery he committed.

He stole a vacuum cleaner from the Co-op in Bishop Auckland on June 27, and on August 18 was caught trying to take six computer games from the town's Wilkinson's store.

On August 2, Stabler broke into a house in Bishop Auckland while the son of the owner was in the shower and fled after being confronted. On September 2, he stole £3,000 of tools from a plumbing company.

Between September 15 and 19 he handled the £3,000 stolen Honda and was caught driving it in the early hours of September 26. He also admitted driving without insurance and a licence.

Stabler pleaded guilty to breaching the conditions of his licence after release from prison and to possessing a £10 bag of heroin when he was stopped by police for the driving offences.

Mr Bradshaw said Stabler's high-speed ride took him from Eldon towards Bishop Auckland and on to Shildon, where he eventually stopped after evading a police Stinger device.

A police doctor tried three times to take a blood sample and then waited for an hour, while holding Stabler up, as he attempted and failed to produce urine.

Aisha Wadoodi, for Stabler, asked for his guilty pleas to be taken into account, and told the court that Stabler had made efforts to overcome his drug addiction while on remand, staying on the drug-free wing and passing weekly tests.

His heroin dependency had increased when his mother died last year.