Disabled driver led police on 120mph chase through Hartlepool with pregnant woman passenger

The repaired fence at the junction of Chapel Street and Front Street in Wingate.  Picture by FRANK REID
The repaired fence at the junction of Chapel Street and Front Street in Wingate. Picture by FRANK REID

A disabled driver who led police on a 120mph chase has been jailed.

Wheelchair-bound Gerald Appleyard covered more than eight miles in under seven minutes through residential roads and villages, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Hart Lane at its junction with Raby Road.  Picture by FRANK REID

Hart Lane at its junction with Raby Road. Picture by FRANK REID

The 50-year-old put his foot down despite having three female passengers, including a young woman who was four months pregnant.

“He also overtook a cyclist while he was doing 80mph,” said Jenny Haigh, prosecuting.

“The pursuit began in Hart Lane in Hartlepool when patrol officers ran a check on Appleyard’s Renault Megane convertible and discovered it had no MoT.

“They indicated for it to stop, but it accelerated away, running the first red light it came to at speed.

“The Megane was doing more than 60mph in the 30mph limit road on the wrong carriageway, causing other vehicles to take avoiding action.

“It passed another traffic light on red, and drove the wrong way around a roundabout.”

The court heard the chase continued on the B1280 towards Wingate.

“At one point the police car reached 113mph,” said Ms Haigh. “The Megane was still gaining ground leading the officer to estimate its speed at 120mph.

“The chase came to an end near Chapel Street in Station Town when the Megane hit a wooden fence.”

Appleyard, of Front Street East, Wingate, admitted dangerous driving, and driving without a licence, both on July 10.

Andrew Teate, defending, said in mitigation: “This was a dreadful piece of driving which would have been more at home on a race track or in a rally. There were no injuries, but that is no thanks to Mr Appleyard.

“The irony is that had he stopped as requested, he may have received little more than a financial penalty.

“He is now wheelchair-bound due to a spinal disorder.

Judge Stephen Ashurst jailed Appleyard for eight months.

The judge told him: “You drove at breakneck speed, and your poor attitude to this offending is demonstrated by you telling the probation service hitting the fence was a ‘controlled stop’.

“Anyone else using the road at the same time was put in mortal danger, and it is only good fortune no one was killed or seriously injured.

“You had been drinking the night before, and had taken amphetamine to top up your painkillers.

“The courts must take the health of a defendant into account when sentencing, but your problems didn’t prevent you driving as you did.”

Appleyard was banned from driving for three years, and he must take an extended test if he wishes to drive again.