A dangerous driver who sped down the wrong carriageway of the Tyne Bridge in a stolen car has been jailed for 15 months.
A dramatic police pursuit, involving a number of police cars and a helicopter, ensued after “tear-away” Gordon Simpson was spotted driving a stolen Audi A3 on September 23 this year.
The intoxicated 40-year-old tore through Newcastle City Centre and even drove down the wrong side of the Tyne Bridge carriageway in attempts to escape the police.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how other road-users were forced to make emergency manoeuvres to avoid being struck by the speeding vehicle on the 85 foot high bridge.
Prosecutor Ember Wong explained how a police hunt was launched after a 71-year-old retiree reported that his car had been stolen.
The court was told that the elderly complainant was trying to earn some extra cash as a delivery driver for a Chinese takeaway, when his car was stolen whilst he left it unattended with the keys in the engine when doing a drop-off.
The crown were satisfied that Simpson did not steal the vehicle.
Miss Wong said: "The officer put on his blue lights and sirens.
"The defendant accelerated at speed in what the officer saw as a bid to escape."
She said that the chase only came to a conclusion when a police vehicle stopped in front of him causing a small collision.
She added: "The defendant struggled and resisted. It became clear that he was under the influence of drink and or drugs.
"The defendant was interviewed and admitted that he knew the vehicle was stolen but said that he got it off two lads."
The court heard how Simpson has 31 previous convictions for 119 offences - 14 of which were for taking a vehicle without consent, and nine for driving while disqualified.
He pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking, failing to provide a specimen, driving without insurance and driving whilst disqualified.
In mitigation, Jane Foley asked Judge Tim Gittins to “suspend the inevitable of a custodial sentence”.
She said: "This defendant is in an unfortunate position that his has placed himself under.
"He is a man who struggled with a drugs problem in the past. He has one time been sectioned under the mental health act.
"Now he considers himself to be mentally well and wishes to be sentenced today."
However, the judge said that is was lucky that no-one was hurt in the incident, and that it would not be possible to suspend the sentence.
Jailing him, Judge Gittins said: "You are 40 years of age and are acting like a teenager - a tear-away teenager at that.
"You came by this vehicle, it is accepted that it was taken by others.
"You began a relatively short but terrifying pursuit. You went on the wrong carriageway on the Tyne Bridge.
"Other vehicles had to conduct evasive manoeuvres. It was clear that you were under the influence of something."
Simpson, of Blake Walk, Gateshead, was also disqualified from driving for three years and seven months and was ordered to take an extended retest.