A DRINK-DRIVER who ploughed into a police van to avoid being caught has been put behind bars.
Alan Bell twice rammed the vehicle, which had a prisoner inside, and reversed his Vauxhall Corsa into a tree in his desperate attempt to flee.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 25-year-old, who was three times over the alcohol limit, was finally brought to a stop when a police officer managed to reach into the car and snatch the keys from the ignition.
Bell, of Loweswater, Albany, Washington, who had no licence or insurance to drive the car, admitted dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol and having no insurance or licence.
Prosecutor Jim Hope told the court that Bell’s bad driving had been spotted by officers who were transporting a prisoner to Washington police station on August 21.
His car ended up facing the police van after he clipped a kerb while negotiating a roundabout.
Mr Hope said: “There were two males in front of the car. The defendant was the driver.
“He restarted the engine and moved forward, colliding with the front of the police van.
“He reversed at that stage and then moved forward and collided with the front of the van again.”
The court heard Bell tried to reverse away but smashed into a tree as he did so.
Mr Hope added; “He once more revved the engine and reversed at speed.
“He went through hedges then collided with a tree.
“Both males hit the roof of the Corsa with the impact, but again he tried to move forward, with the wheels spinning.”
The court heard while Bell continued to rev the engine, one of the officers managed to grab hold of the Corsa’s key and Bell was arrested.
Judge Roger Thorn jailed him for 15 months and banned him from the roads for three years.
The judge told Bell: “I have to send you to prison today and it is no pleasure to do so.
“On the other hand the matters to which you pleaded guilty are of such risk to the public I have no alternative.
“It is my duty to protect the public.”
Jamie Adams, mitigating, said Bell comes from a respectable and supportive family and has been offered his job back after being laid off.
He added: “He is appalled by his behaviour on this night.
“He has expressed himself particularly to be apologetic towards the police officers who arrested him.”