Police-chase driver jailed by judge who told him: 'You could have killed someone'

Lawson appeared at Teesside Crown Court.
Lawson appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

A rogue driver who drove into a field during a police chase after racing at nearly 80mph in town centre streets has been jailed.

It was Michael Lawson’s second case of dangerous driving and he was still banned from the first one.

The 21-year-old was told by Teesside’s top judge that he could have killed a pedestrian as he sped between parked cars in Hartlepool.

Prosecutor Jonothan Harley told Teesside Crown Court that Lawson turned off the headlights of the gold Fiesta early in the 10-minute pursuit just before 1am on May 3 last year.

The pursuit by police reached 79mph in built-up areas between parked cars, and Lawson drove over a field.

Lawson and two passengers jumped out and they were pursued on foot, but were lost.

A police dog team was brought in, and when they tracked down Lawson he said as he was arrested: “I was only a passenger."

In interview he replied 'no comment', and when asked if he was disqualified he said that he had forgotten.

He was disqualified at the time and he had no insurance.

Mr Harley said Lawson had been disqualified for two years at Teesside Crown Court on 9 June 2015.

He said the latest case was aggravated because Lawson was driving without lights and tried to escape when stopped.

Stephen Constantine said Lawson had been bullied into driving by the car’s owner, who had been drinking.

Mr Constantine said: “He feared for his own safety because of drug debts that he had built up some years ago.

“A psychiatrist has said he would benefit from home visits, and an appointment has been made for him.

“Thankfully, nobody appears to have been injured or serious damage incurred.

“Having been apprehended by the police he panicked. I asked him why he did not say 'No' and get somebody else to drive.

“He said he was pestered and pestered and he gave in. The owner did not drive his own car because he had been drinking.”

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC told Lawson, who was in breach of an eight-month suspended sentence: “You would have been told before what would happen if you committed any further offence.

“You did and it was a bad piece of driving with aggravating features, that you drove at excessive speeds at night in a built-up area.

“Someone wearing dark clothing could have stepped into your path and you could have caused serious injury or even death.”

Lawson, of Malcolm Road, Hartlepool, was jailed for 16 months and disqualified for 32 months and until he passes an extended driving test.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without a licence or insurance.