Unlicensed Sunderland driver sparked police chase after trying to hide his face

An unlicensed driver sparked a seven minute police chase after officers spotted him trying to hide his face as he passed their patrol car.
Thomas Ratcliff.Thomas Ratcliff.
Thomas Ratcliff.

Thomas Ratcliff had no driving licence or insurance, had cocaine in his system and six diazepam tablets in the Corsa he was driving on Pallion Road in Sunderland on October 9 last year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard police were drawn to him when it was noticed he "tried to hide his face" as they passed and he was followed.

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Prosecutor John Crawford told the court: "The defendant tried to make off from the police, who turned their lights on.

"The defendant turned into Fordfield Road and the police pursued him.

"The pursuit lasted around seven minutes and officers describe during the course of that the defendant had gone through residential streets exceeding thespeed limit, not stopping at junctions or red lights.

"The defendant travelled at 62mph in a 30mph, performed dangerous overtaking manoeuvres, with vehicles coming in the other direction, travelled at speed down streets where there were parked cars and pedestrians and overtaking on roundabouts."

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The court heard police eventually carried out a tactical stop due to the level of risk Ratcliff caused.

Ratcliff, 28, of no fixed address, admitted dangerous driving, having no licence, no insurance, drug driving and possessing a class C drug.

The court heard he is currently serving a 31 month sentence for similar driving offences and violence on his mother.

Mr Recorder David Brooke QC sentenced him to a further six months behind bars and a three year road ban.

The judge said it was a "serious and bad piece of driving".

Helen Towers, defending, said Ratcliff, who had a troubled upbringing, caused no accident or injury through the bad driving, which was in daylight hours.