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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Drink-driver led Cumbria police on high-speed car chase

A motorist led police on a high-speed chase – narrowly avoiding two crashes – while nearly twice the legal limit, a court heard.

Michael Shaw, who previously suffered brain injuries in a car crash, avoided an immediate jail term after the early-hours pursuit through Whitehaven.

The 20-year-old, of Melbreak in the town, was spotted by police on Inkerman Terrace driving at “extremely high speed”, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

He lost control of his silver Toyota and veered towards the officers on the opposite side of the road – forcing them to swerve out of the way to avoid a collision.

Shaw continued at high speed towards the town centre while the officers chased him with their sirens wailing and flashing him to stop.

As the traffic became heavier Shaw then pulled into the opposite carriageway in front of oncoming vehicles to overtake.

He would not have been able to see what was coming in the opposite direction at the time, the court heard.

One motorist had to stop to avoid a collision and Shaw carried on, still at high speed, before eventually pulling over after a six-minute police chase.

Shaw tested positive for alcohol in his system during a roadside breath test.

He was then taken to the police station where officers found he had been chewing a 20p coin as he believed it might interfere with the equipment which reads the amount of alcohol in the blood.

But this was described as an ‘old wives tale’ which did not work.

During interview Shaw denied driving out of control or driving dangerously and said he had been drinking heavily the night before and the alcohol may have still been in his system.

Tests at the police station showed he was nearly twice the legal limit.

He later admitted dangerous driving and driving under excess alcohol in January 25.

Mark Shepherd, defending, said Shaw was more susceptible to poor judgement and making bad decisions as he had suffered brain damage during a road accident in August 2011.

Mr Shepherd said this may have accounted for his actions.

He said that Shaw, a rugby coach with a young daughter, comes from a supportive family who are dedicated to serving the local community as well as the Armed Forces.

Mr Shepherd said Shaw’s insurance premium had cost him £4,700 a year.

Recorder Simon Kealey told Shaw his offences were “very serious indeed” but took into account the impact his injuries had on him and his ability to cope if he were sent to prison.

Mr Kealey handed Shaw a 10-month prison sentence for dangerous driving and two months concurrent for the excess alcohol, suspended for 18 months.

He must also undertake a community order with supervision for one year and was banned from driving for three years. Shaw must also pay a £100 victim surcharge.

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