140mph driver branded a lunatic

A YOUNG driver who led police on a 140mph chase has avoided an immediate jail term.

A judge yesterday told Lynden Watt, 21, from Wynyard, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, that he drove his Mercedes like a “lunatic” after hearing that he was clocked at 100mph in a 30mph zone in the early hours.

Judge George Moorhouse told Watt at Teesside Crown Court that if anyone else had been on the roads that night on January 7 he would have been charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs said that the driver of a marked Cleveland Police car spotted Watt’s white Mercedes at 3am travelling south on the A19 at 98mph and when the officer activated his lights Watt accelerated to 130mph, reaching 140mph towards the A1027 exit for Norton.

The Mercedes was still doing 100mph at the end of the slip road and it would have been unable to avoid any vehicle on the roundabout, said Mrs Jacobs.

The car took another roundabout at 70mph and then sped along Billingham’s Central Avenue at 100mph in a 30mph zone, the court heard.

Watt made no attempt to slow down at a junction, went around a roundabout the wrong way, increased to 115mph in a 40mph limit, mounted the pavement, and went through a red light before stopping at a junction.

The chase lasted for six minutes, and Watt said that he could not remember the incident, saying that he had taken medication for his depression.

Paul Currer, mitigating, said that the fast driving was not sparked by a criminal enterprise, and Watt had not been drinking.

Watt told the probation officer interviewing him for a pre-sentence report that it was linked to a total disregard for his own safety and his distress following a long talk with his ex-partner.

He described hearing a description of his driving as like something from a book.

His supportive parents took away the car the day after his arrest.

He was unable to work because of his illness after doing manual work.

Mr Currer added that he was an accomplished boxer, and he was now concentrating on keeping fit physically and mentally, and he was thankful that nobody was injured or damage caused.

The judge told Watt that he was driving like a lunatic and that it was horrendous driving, but he was of previous good character and had been suffering from mental health problems for many years.

Watt, of Eshton, Wynyard, was given a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years with supervision for 12 months.

He was also placed on a two-month tagged curfew from 7pm to 7am, disqualified from driving for two years and until he passes an extended driving test, and ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge, after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.