'Our public highways are not racing circuits' say police after drag race sentences

Police have reacted to sentences handed to a gang who took part in an illegal drag race.

The event, which was soon stopped by officers, was likened in court to a scene from the Fast and the Furious series of movies.

Two Wearside men and one from South Tyneside were sentenced last Friday after they were convicted by a jury of driving offences.

One, David Burdis, 28, of Jervis Street, Hebburn, has been jailed for eight months and banned from driving for 16 months.

He was convicted at Newcastle Crown Court of dangerous driving and pleaded guilty to having no insurance or driving licence as well as admitting an unrelated driving while disqualified charge.

Event organiser Damien Rodgers, 39, of Coach Road Estate, Washington, was fined £600 and disqualified from driving for 12 months after he was found guilty of aiding and abetting careless driving.

Damien Rodgers, left, and David Burdis have been sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court for their part in an illegal drag race.

Damien Rodgers, left, and David Burdis have been sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court for their part in an illegal drag race.

Robert Graham, 36, of Wordsworth Avenue West, Houghton, and Garry Kelly, 24, of West Terrace, Choppington, Northumberland, were both fined £300 and banned from the roads for six months after they were convicted of careless driving.

Sergeant Matt Sykes, head of Northumbria Police's Operation Dragoon team, said afterwards: "It is not illegal to have a passion for cars but what these men were doing that night was illegal and put innocent members of the public at risk.

"If they wanted to see how fast they can drive their car then they should go to a track day and not an industrial estate in Cramlington. Our public highways are not racing circuits and it this exact type of behaviour that can lead to people dying on the roads.

"What I find hard to comprehend is that these men have never accepted that their driving that night was dangerous. Despite the overwhelming evidence caught on one of their own dashboard cameras they took their case to trial.

Rodgers was caught on camera starting the race.

Rodgers was caught on camera starting the race.

"It came as no surprise to me that the jury saw through their lies and they have now been taken off our roads."

The incident took place in October last year with Rodgers, Graham and Kelly all having their bans suspended while they launch appeals.