Motorist who led police on a high speed police chase avoids jail

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A motorist who sparked a dangerous police pursuit of up to 70mph on residential roads has narrowly avoided an immediate jail term.

Gary Hall, 22, of Finch Lane, Cottam, Preston, was chased on several roads in Preston by officers, the police helicopter and a police dog on April 27.

Preston Sessions House Court heard he went onto the wrong side of the carriageway, through red lights and across roundabouts as he fled police in a Ford Focus.

Ironically, he came to the attention of police for driving too slowly.

Hall, who admitted dangerous driving, was given six months’ jail suspended for 12 months. He must do 100 hours’ unpaid work and was banned for 12 months.

Recorder John Corless said: “It is to your great fortune that nobody was seriously injured and that no collision took place.”

Prosecuting, Hanifa Patel said: “At 12.50am, PC Baker was on uniform mobile patrol duty on Blackpool Road. It was then his attention was drawn to a black Ford Focus coming towards him in the opposite direction, driving very very slowly.

“As a result he followed the vehicle. It suddenly began to increase its speed and accelerated through the junction at 40mph. The officer illuminated his emergency equipment, however the defendant refused to stop and continued to drive away at speed.

“The officer describes him driving at 60mph in a 30mph zone, turning right into Woodplumpton Road on the wrong way of the carriageway, and not slowing down for mini roundabouts. He was driving at speeds of up to 70mph, braking heavily and turning left and speeding at 60mph to 70mph on 30mph zones.

“The officer describes at one point he was on wrong side and negotiated a roundabout at 60mph. He braked harshly as it approached another roundabout again on the wrong side of the road. It eventually approached traffic lights on red. The officer was hoping defendant would slow down. Eventually he lost sight of the vehicle.

“During the course of the pursuit, the helicopter had arrived. The officer had a police dog.”

The court heard the car was abandoned on a junction of Blackpool Road, and the dog was given his scent to trace.

Hall, a labourer, was seen walking away in an alleyway and was confronted by officers.

Defending, Clare Thomas said he was about to become a father and had also suffered a recent bereavement.

She added: “This defendant is a young man who appears terrified as to the prospect of his sentence.

“It happened at a time of extreme stress in his life.”