Jailed: Drink-driver who led police on 70mph chase in Sunderland

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A man was today jailed after taking police on a three-mile chase in a stolen car while over the drink-driving limit.

Alan Beale was spotted driving a stolen Renault Megane on the A690 in Durham, and when the 31-year-old failed to stop for police, they were forced to pursue him through Sunderland.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that at 5.45am on October 21 last year Beale drove at excessive speeds around the North Moor Lane roundabout in Sunderland and ignored police warning lights and sirens.

He drove at a speed of 60mph on North Moor Lane, which has a speed limit of 40mph, and narrowly avoided colliding with a vehicle driving in the opposite direction.

Beale drove erratically around Silksworth, doing 60mph in a 30mph zone as he tried to avoid police.

Bridie Smurthwaite, prosecuting, said: “On Silksworth Road he reached speeds of 70mph. He went through a red traffic light at 70mph, then crashed into a road sign, then came to an halt.

“Him and his companion ran from the car, but were detained nearby after a short foot chase.”

Miss Smurthwaite told the court how Beale provided two breath specimens, which read he had 58 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, compared to the legal limit of 35mcgs.

She said: “The officer said this is some of the worst driving that he has seen, and it was sheer luck no one was seriously or fatally injured.”

Beale, of Coronation Street, Middlesbrough, admitted dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance, driving while above the alcohol limit and failing to stop when requested.

Garry Wood, defending, told the court he was driving the car back from Scotland for his companion, who was too intoxicated.

He said: “He’s accepted that these offences are serious and cross the custody threshold. The mitigating factors are limited.

“The offence took place in the early hours of the morning, where it appears there was not a lot of road users on the road and there was no collision with a road user.

“The defendant was over the limit, but thankfully just marginally over the limit.

“At the time of the offence the defendant was unemployed. This was due to him undergoing three separate operations on his hand.

“As a result of these operations he was unable to work. He was mixing with the wrong people and feeling depressed, drinking to excess.

“Thankfully the operation on his hand was successful.

“Clearly he’s got an issue with alcohol which has been recognised.”

The judge, Mr Recorder Duncan Smith, told Beale: “Two things are clear. The first is that you have a problem with dealing responsibly with alcohol.

“You acknowledge this, but until you do that differently as addressed you shouldn’t hold a driving licence.

“People who drive whilst drunk end up killing people. I don’t think you want that on your conscience.

“As for the driving itself, it’s a very serious piece of driving.

“It’s aggravated by the fact you have obviously travelled more than three miles on the police chase - a significant distance.”

The judge sentenced Beale to nine months in prison for his “atrocious” driving, and disqualified him from driving for seven years.