A DRIVER blamed a change in his medication for him leading police on a chase through residential streets.
A team of armed police were dispatched with other officers to stop Gary Wilson when he sped off in his van after a row in the street.
The 49-year-old raced through residential streets in Owton Manor, Hartlepool, the middle of the afternoon when there were people and children around.
Teesside Crown Court heard he mounted a kerb at a junction and narrowly missed one police officer when they tried to box him in but he drove off slipping between two police cars.
Armed police joined the chase as a precaution based on information that Wilson was acting irrationally following a row at around 2.30pm on June 17 last year.
He was followed from Seaton Lane to Owton Manor where he drove at speeds approaching 50mph in a 30mph area.
Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said: “This is a residential area, there is a school in the vicinity.
“The defendant showed no sign of slowing down or having regard to pedestrians in the area.”
A school crossing patrol officer was also trying to usher children across Catcote Road just before Wilson drove past.
The chase involving four police vehicles was brought to an end in Marlowe Road after police again boxed Wilson in.
Bare chested Wilson was dragged out of the window of his Ford Transit and detained.
Police discovered two lock knives in the door pocket. One had a five inch long blade and the other was three inches.
Wilson collided with two police vehicles when he was stopped, causing more than £3,000 of damage and causing them to be out of action for a total of 19 days.
Wilson, of Dalkeith Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and two counts of possessing an article with a blade.
But he was spared immediate jail after the court heard he had reacted badly to a change in medication for a long-standing mental health problem.
Barrister Ian Mullarkey, mitigating, said: “He recognises that had a significant effect on his emotional wellbeing and thought processes.
“He didn’t intend to cause any harm, he simply sought to flee worried about what would happen to him.
“He regrets his behaviour on that day.
“It was a very short period of driving and didn’t involve substantially excessive speed.”
Wilson, of Dalkeith Road, Hartlepool, was detained under the Mental Health Act shortly after his arrest, but Mr Mullarkey said his medication had been changed back and he is now under the care of his GP.
He was given 16 months prison which was suspended for 18 months with supervision and banned from driving for a year.
Judge Howard Crowson said Wilson’s driving was bad and persistent, but added: “I’m satisfied this was a period of behaviour for you that was caused by a change in your medication.”