A MOTOR menace already had two convictions for dangerous driving when he led police on a high-speed chase through residential streets.
Lee Darby clocked up his third dangerous driving offence by causing thousands of pounds of damage when he smashed into another vehicle during the pursuit – and then drove on with just three tyres.
Police followed a trail of sparks from the Astra van driven by banned driver Darby, 27.
Darby, a criminal with a violent history, raced at double the speed limit in residential streets during a busy lunchtime.
He finally abandoned the white van and was arrested after a chase on foot, claiming that he was a backseat passenger.
Prosecutor Richard Herrmann told Teesside Crown Court that Darby pleaded guilty when the case was listed for trial.
Darby was driving the van in Rossmere Way, Hartlepool, at lunchtime on April 25 when he suddenly raced away from a police car.
He reached speeds of 60 miles an hour in 30mph residential areas with vehicles parked on both sides and many pedestrians.
In Sinclair Road he collided with an oncoming car, despite the driver’s attempts to avoid him, causing £2,500 damage to the man’s vehicle.
The owner had to pay £400 excess and higher insurance premiums.
Darby had 17 convictions for 34 offences dating back to 2001 for dangerous driving in 2010 and 2011, driving while disqualified and wounding.
On May 17 last year he attacked a former girlfriend after following her into her flat when she returned home to Balmoral Court at midnight from a christening.
Police received an anonymous report of domestic violence, and when they arrived the young woman had two black eyes and bleeding nose. She clung to an officer saying that Darby had punched and kicked her.
Mr Herrmann said that Darby, who was “really well-known to the courts”, later texted her, saying “I can’t believe that you fell down the stairs”.
Morgan Brien, defending, said that Darby had driven the van out of stupidity when his friend the owner arrived at his home after he had obviously been drinking, and he panicked when he saw the police car.
He said that Darby had been drinking heavily when he lost his temper with his former girlfriend.
He admitted slapping her face 15 to 20 times but he denied punching or kicking her.
The judge Recorder Felicity Davies told him: “I take the view that immediate custody is the only possible sentence for someone with a record like yours.”
Darby, of Ridley Court, Hartlepool, was jailed for 27 months, disqualified for two years with £120 victim surcharge and given an indefinite restraining order banning him from contacting his ex, after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving while disqualified and also battery.