Banned Hartlepool driver took dad’s car and led police on 70mph chase through streets where children played

Teesside Crown Court
Teesside Crown Court

A banned driver took his dad’s car and raced from police at 70mph on busy streets where children played.

Michael Rochford, 23, drove over pavements, through red lights and forced other drivers to swerve out of his way on his 30 zone joyride.

A crown court judge said Rochford carried out “a number of dangerous manoeuvres” during the crime at 930am while children were on the streets as it was school holidays.

Rochford, who was in breach of a suspended prison sentence at the time, wept as the judge sent him to prison for his “appalling driving”.

Rochford, who had taken his father’s Rover car without his consent, finally abandoned the vehicle near the family home in Hartlepool.

Prosecutor David Crook told Teesside Crown Court that Rochford’s father declined to assist the police.

He said that black smoke was pouring from the car’s engine at the end of the 3km pursuit in Lansbury Grove, Hartlepool, where Rochford ran into his house but later emerged to give himself up.

It began when a police officer in a marked car tried to stop him in Stranton Road, Hartlepool, at 9.30am on July 25 because he had a brake light out and he was not wearing a seatbelt.

The officer switched on his car’s flashing blue lights and Rochford stopped near a roundabout, but when he was told to move further on to a safer spot he sped off reaching speeds of 50, 60 and 70mph.

Mr Crook said Rochford raced over speed bumps and he mounted the pavement to pass stationary traffic.

He added: “It was dangerous driving through a densely populated area of Hartlepool during the summer holidays with children playing.”

Rochford had been disqualified for 12 months by Hartlepool magistrates on January 26 when he was also given a suspended six weeks jail sentence.

Jim Withyman, defending, said Rochford told a probation officer: “I like driving cars.”

He said Rochford was a foolish man and not a serious entrenched criminal.

He added: “Any period he spends in custody will be difficult for him.”

The judge Recorder Simon Batiste told Rochford: “You were reaching speeds of 50, 60 and even 70mph.

“The schools were on holiday and there were children on the streets.

“The driving included a number of dangerous manoeuvres which you carried out. In short your driving was appalling.”

Rochford, of Furness Street, Hartlepool, was jailed for seven months and disqualified for three years until he passes an extended driving test, and ordered to pay £1,000 in criminal and victim surcharges.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and with no insurance.