Banned Sunderland driver's car burst into flames after birthday drugs binge left three people injured and trail of devastation

North Moor Lane closed after the incident.
North Moor Lane closed after the incident.

A banned driver who injured three people when he got behind the wheel after a birthday drugs binge has been put behind bars.

Paul Clark's Volvo burst into flames after he cause a trail of devastation while trying to get away from the police.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the serial road menace, who had turned 28 that day in June, was high on diazepam, disqualified from driving and on bail for another motoring offence.

A judge said the chaos he caused on the roads, which was captured on police camera, made "terrifying viewing".

By the time he was arrested, Clark had caused whiplash to one driver, caused extensive bruising to a motorist whose vehicle was "thrown into the air" and left his own passenger needing complex surgery to a broken arm.

The court heard Clark had come to the attention of the police when he failed to give way on Westgate Avenue, in Sunderland.

When he realised the officers had seen him, Clark "reversed a substantial distance" and smashed into a car behind, which caused whiplash to the driver, then "sped away".

The court heard police activated lights and sirens but Clark refused to stop.

Paul Clark

Paul Clark

Two-and-a-half minutes later, while travelling at more than 60 mph on the wrong side of the road on North Moor Lane, which has a 30 mph limit, Clark's vehicle clipped a kerb and spun out of control.

Mr recorder Paul Greanie QC told him: "You crashed, head on, into a Ford Cougar, which was on the correct side of the road.

"The Cougar was thrown into the air.

"Your vehicle caught fire."

The court heard the driver of the Cougar had "extensive bruising", bruised ribs and his nose bled profusely.

Clark's passenger, who said he had been "driving like an idiot to get away from the police", needed surgery to fit bolts and plates to his badly broken arm.

Clark, of Pembroke Avenue, Sunderland, who has been convicted nine times for driving while banned in the past, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury
by
dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, having no insurance, failing to stop and possessing small amounts of cannabis and other drugs, which were found after he was arrested .

He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail with a five year road ban.

The judge told him: "More than one person was injured, indeed three were injured in total.

"This was a truly appalling piece of driving by a man who was affected by drugs, disqualified from driving, on bail and with a dreadful record.

"It was a prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving."

Nick Lane, defending, said the drugs Clark was caught with were for his own use and added: "It was his birthday".

Mr Lane said Clark is determined to "kick his habit" and stay out of trouble in future.

He added: "He is very keen an apology is made on his behalf.

"He is determined to prove, upon his release, he can put offending behind him and become a reliable and decent member of society.

"He wishes to never drive again."

The aftermath of the crash in North Moor Lane.

The aftermath of the crash in North Moor Lane.