High-speed chase over nothing: Paranoid driver had panic attack at sight of police helicopter

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A PARANOID driver led a police helicopter on a 30-minute high-speed chase around Sunderland.

John Nicholson was fully-insured and driving his Vauxhall Astra legally when he spotted police officers driving near him on May 22.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 21-year-old suffered a panic attack after seeing police and sped off.

Nicholson, of Rennie Road, Red House, Sunderland, drove at speed, on the wrong side of the road and through red lights.

Stuart Graham, prosecuting, said: “As the police entered the street, the Vauxhall Astra took off and a helicopter was dispatched when the defendant refused to stop.

“Eventually the vehicle was brought to a stop and the defendant arrested. When interviewed, the defendant didn’t put his dangerous driving down to anything other than panic.”

Jamie Adams, defending, told the court that he was thankful that no-one had been injured during the chase.

Mr Adams said: “No accident did occur and he does seem to be a competent driver.

“His driving in this way seems to be very much a part of his faulty mental state at the time.”

Nicholson, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, had his sentence deferred until December.

Judge Brian Forster told Nicholson: “You just can’t behave in the way that you did.

“If you try to outrun the police, you put other members of the public in danger.”