‘I’ve been an idiot’ admits Sunderland police-chase driver who thought he wasn’t insured

Neil Metters.
Neil Metters.

A hapless driver led police on a high-speed pursuit – because he incorrectly believed he was uninsured.

Neil Metters, 25, drove at speeds of up to 70mph though streets in Barnes and Grindon, Sunderland magistrates heard.

He said these immortal words to the police officer, ‘I’ve been and absolute idiot’. Unfortunately his character has been significantly blighted by his actions

Chris Wilson, defending

He eventually abandoned the car and made off on foot, leaving it to continue rolling unmanned down the road before it collided with a garden wall.

The self-employed landscape gardener later told police he fled because he was unaware that he was actually insured to drive the vehicle, which belonged to his girlfriend’s father.

Metters has now been handed a suspended jail term and banned from the roads for a year

Prosecutor Angela Narey said Metters was spotted at 12.15pm on February 11 at the wheel of a Mercedes, by two officers in a marked police car.

“Mr Metters was seen pressing keys on a mobile phone, as if he was sending a text message,” Miss Narey said.

“The officers attempted to stop the vehicle, having illuminated the blue lights and sirens.

“However, while the vehicle did initially stop, when an officer got out of the car to speak to him, it drove off at speed.”

The Mercedes drove along Jackson Street, General Graham Street and Grindon Terrace at speeds of 45 miles per hour in a 30 zone, the court heard.

It then pulled left without stopping and turned onto Chester Road before driving along Chatsworth Street at 50mph.

Metters then turned sharp right at the junction with Cleveland Road, undertaking other vehicles at 70mph and failing to stop or slow down for a Give Way sign.

He then failed to give way on the A690 junction, swerving to avoid vehicles and undertaking cars. On Springwell Road, he went through a red light at 60mph in a 40 zone.

He carried on on to Somerset Road and Grindon Lane, where he drove the wrong way around a roundabout, continuing on the wrong side of the road, narrowly avoiding other vehicles.

Miss Narey said: “He then got out of the vehicle and ran from the scene and was pursued on foot by one of the officers.

“The car rolled down the road and came to a rest against a garden wall.”

A quantity of amphetamine was found in the footwell of the car.

Metters was later arrested and when police searched his home on the The Broadway, Grindon, they found a small amount of cannabis.

In interview, he told police the Mercedes belonged to his girlfriend’s father.

“He said he saw police behind him and he panicked when he thought he wasn’t insured, but it turns out that he was,” Miss Narey said.

“He was asked whether he thought he was driving dangerously and he said he wouldn’t go as far as that and that he was in control of the vehicle.

“This was a police pursuit, driving at excessive speed, driving the wrong way round a roundabout, through a red light and undertaking cars as well.”

Metters, who was crying in the dock during the hearing, admitted dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, possession of a Class B drug, attempted possession of a Class A drug and using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

He has one previous conviction for possession of cocaine, the court heard.

Chris Wilson, defending, said: “His actions at this time were entirely out of character, on the spur of the moment, due to a misunderstanding.

“The defendant believed when he was spotted by the police on his mobile phone that he was not insured.

“He was insured because the day prior he had insured his own vehicle, that had third-party liability cover when he had permission to drive another vehicle and he did have permission to drive his girlfriend’s car.

“He said these immortal words to the police officer, ‘I’ve been an absolute idiot’. Unfortunately, his character has been significantly blighted by his actions.”

Probation officer Alan Cutting, who provided a report on Metters, said a driving ban would have a “massive impact” on his life and his business.

Mr Cutting said: “Of course he would have been better off stopping, he realises that now.

“He tells me he doesn’t do drugs. He had the drugs, he’d put them away with the intention not to use them again.”

Metters was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and was told to pay £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge. He was banned from driving for a year.