Learner driver smashed car into embankment before fleeing police on foot

Unlicensed driver Lee Cooke.
Unlicensed driver Lee Cooke.

An unlicensed motorist crashed a car he planned to learn to drive in into an embankment in a bid to get away from police.

Lee Cooke continued steering the Ford Focus, despite its front engine and wheel damage, before abandoning the vehicle and fleeing on foot.

Station Road, Hetton, is where the pursuit started.

Station Road, Hetton, is where the pursuit started.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 28-year-old, who had bought the car so he could start driving lessons, was arrested later at his home and told officers he had hurt his arm in the smash.

Prosecutor Mark Giuliani told the court Cooke had refused to pull over when flashed by blue police lights and sirens at Station Road, Hetton, on April 26.

Cooke travelled for around five miles, often at high speed, with the police on his tail and caused other motorists to swerve out of his way.

He eventually lost control of the car and it went into an embankment after it "fishtailed" three times.

Cooke, of Regent Street, Hetton, admitted dangerous driving, failing to stop, having no insurance or licence and possessing a small amount of cannabis.

Judge Tim Gittins sentenced Cooke to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with supervision, 75 hours unpaid work and an 18-month road ban.

Cooke must pass an extended driving test before he can get behind the wheel.

Judge Gittins told him: "You, as someone without a driving licence should have had nothing to do with a motor vehicle unless it was within a properly supervised situation as a learner


"Instead, you drove the vehicle, a vehicle you had purchased in anticipation, you say, of starting driving lessons .

"That is not how you go about it, you complete driving lessons, get a licence, get properly insured and then you think about spending money, which no doubt you can ill afford, on a


The court heard Cooke has a new baby, is not heavily convicted and is willing to work with the probation service.

He has a previous conviction for driving without due care and attention, when he was using a phone while driving a moped.

Judge Gittins warned him: "You stay away from vehicles from now, until you care in a legitimate position to take lessons and take the test. "