A CHRISTMAS Eve drink driver has been banned after he led police on a 110mph chase with shredded tyres.
Thomas Johnson drove at speed through crowded streets in the centre of Bude before he almost caused a serious accident by driving straight over a roundabout.
His driving was so dangerous that police twice abandoned pursuits in built up areas because of the risk to the public.
They used a stinger to deflate the tyres of his car but he carried on at speeds of 110mph until the tyres shredded and he was boxed in and stopped by police cars.
He drove out of Bude on the A39 and was eventually arrested just the other side of the border with Devon near as he tried to get back to his home in Kilkhampton.
A judge spared him an immediate jail sentence after medical reports showed his behaviour was sparked by depression and anxiety and that Johnson had told a counsellor his driving was sometimes suicidal.
Johnson, aged 24, of Kilkhampton, admitted dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol and was jailed for nine months, suspended for two years and ordered to do 200-hours unpaid community work and 20-days rehabilitation activities.
He was banned from driving for three years by Judge Geoffrey Mercer at Exeter Crown Court and told he should not reapply for a licence until he was psychologically fit to do so.
He said: “This was a bad case of dangerous driving. It is a matter of pure good fortune that a serious accident did not occur.
“It is clear from all I have read that your behaviour on Christmas Eve was undoubtedly linked to the mental health difficulties that you have.
“That does not make it any less serious. It does not excuse what you did but it explains it to some extent. I am able to suspend the sentence because of what I have read about you and your present circumstances.
“The driving test authorities should be made aware of the information I have seen from your doctor and counsellor about the risk which your state of mental health poses. You should not get behind the wheel of a car again until you are safe to do so.”
Miss Francesca Whebell, prosecuting, said police were alerted to Johnson’s erratic driving on the evening of December 24, last year and first tried to stop him in The Strand.
She said: “He did not stop. His wheels spun, the engine revved and he drove off well in excess of the speed limit and driving far below the standard one would expect.
“There were many other road users and pedestrians about at the time in the middle of Bude and officers felt it was not safe to continue a pursuit.
“The vehicle drove away but returned back and officers felt the driver was trying to goad them into a pursuit. They did not do so because of concern for public safety but other officers and the force helicopter were called in.
“The vehicle was successfully stung but that did not stop it and Johnson drove away at 50 mph in a residential area.”
Miss Whebell said an accident was narrowly avoided at a roundabout where a police officer realised Johnson was not going to stop and stepped into the road to halt another car, which would have driven into his path.
The car was seen driving at 110mph as the tyres were deflating and the car carried out until at least one was shredded and Johnson was boxed in and stopped.
He gave a breath test reading of 53-microgrammes — one and a half times the legal limit.
Mr James Taghdissian, defending, said Johnson was suffering from anxiety at the time and went out after an argument with his pregnant fiancee about their imminent eviction from the cottage they were renting from a friend.
He said: “He made the wrong and foolish decision to stop at a pub and carry on driving after having a drink. His anxiety meant that when he saw the police he wanted to be on his own and get away.
“When he was stopped he did not struggle. In fact, he told the police he had been a complete idiot. He did not set out determined on a course of bad driving.
“He was in a black cloud of depression which kicked in. He accepts his behaviour was inexcusable. He was in a very emotional situation which sparked off the idiocy that followed.”