A dangerous driver who was TWICE caught trying to evade police at high speed through busy residential streets has avoided jail.
Benjamin Queen was first spotted by officers driving a grey Ford Transit Van on Burnley Road in Accrington and when they tried to pull him over he sped away.
Burnley Crown Court heard how they followed him onto Sydney Street, Lodge Street and Windsor Street and when police activated their emergency lights he ‘ignored it and failed to stop’.
Amanda Johnson, prosecuting, said Queen then ‘drove across Burnley Road at speed and without looking’ before turning onto Addison Street and then Annie Street at more than 50mph.
The court heard how Queen’s driving was ‘becoming more erratic’ and police stopped their pursuit. The incident happened at around 1.50am on August 21, 2013 and the van was later found in an alleyway behind Nutter Street.
Miss Johnson said Queen, 25, of Bridge Street, Rishton, was involved in a second incident of dangerous driving in May 2014 - only two weeks after being disqualified from driving on an unrelated matter.
The court heard how an officer in a marked police car spotted Queen in a silver Hyundai at 11.55am passing the Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Clayton-le-Moors.
Miss Johnson said: “As Queen passed he seemed to slide down in the seat and hide his face.
“However the officer recognised Queen and knew he had been disqualified and turned round and pursued him.”
The court heard how Queen led the police car on a chase through residential streets and at one point drove across the junction of High Street ‘without slowing sufficiently to ensure the junction was safe to cross’.
Miss Johnson said he then drove onto a rough track and through a garage complex forcing workers to jump out of the way. He then went onto a public footpath and swerved around a bollard at speed before losing the police on Station Road.
Queen pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving and one count of driving while disqualified and without a licence and insurance. He was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months with 200 hours unpaid work, disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to take an extended retest.
Jeremy Lasker, defending, said: “The offences pass the custodial threshold because of the nature of the driving and the repetition of his offending.
“These offences are very old and he has served a sentence of imprisonment since the commission of these offences.
“The worry and concern is there has been yet further offending.
“He has had something of a difficult upbringing.
“He is now in a stable relationship and at a stable address and since coming out of prison he has been on post-sentence supervision. He appears to have engaged well with his offender manager.
“However if he continues with his interest in cars and wanting to buy them and do them up and sell them he is almost bound to end up before the courts.”
Judge Jonathan Gibson said: “Clearly this was extremely dangerous driving and with the potential for serious injuries. Fortunately nobody got in your way.
“I am going to suspend the sentence as there is a reasonable prospect of you having matured.”