A young motorist drove like a “maniac” through Carlisle because he wrongly thought his insurance had expired.

The city’s crown court was today shown a hair-raising video of Luke Whitfield racing through residential streets in Carlisle, ignoring red lights, and forcing other cars to swerve out of the way as tried to evade a pursuing police car.

The 20-year-old reached speeds of nearly 80mph during his terrifying five-minute journey – which would have taken 11 minutes had he been driving within the speed limits, the court heard.

Whitfield, formerly of Wigton Road, Carlisle, admitted dangerous driving.

Prosecutor Tim Evans outlined how the defendant began his madcap journey at 11.20pm on September 8 when police spotted him driving his BMW car out of the Border Reiver pub car park in the city's Morton area.

Police dash-cam footage showed how Whitfield, carrying three passengers of around his own age, refused to heed the pursuing police car’s siren and blue flashing lights as he tried to escape.

The BMW was filmed speeding along Wigton Road at almost 60mph, through red traffic lights, and on to Castle Way near the city centre.

At Stanwix Bank, Whitfield again ignored a red light, and headed towards Brampton Road on the wrong side of the carriageway.

On Brampton Road itself, where pedestrians were seen on pavements, he reached almost 80mph.

The pursuit ended abruptly on Brunstock Lane after the BMW was caught by a police stinger device, which deflated its tyres, said Mr Evans.

The barrister quoted PC Justin Hill, the officer driving the pursuing police car.

“The standard of driving was appalling," said the officer. "

"There were several incidents during this pursuit which could have ended in a fatality.”

Judge Andrew Jefferies QC questioned why Whitfield, faced with the option of being caught for uninsured – which was in fact not the case – and driving like a “maniac”, he chose the latter.

"He accepts his driving was thoroughly appalling," replied defence barrister Claire Thomas, commenting that the defendant was immature.

"It was a very bad decision and he is thoroughly ashamed of himself.”

Passing sentence, Judge Jefferies told Whitfield: “It's fluke, and fluke alone, that you are not sitting there facing something much more serious than this charge.

"Cars had to move out of the way, pedestrians were on the streets.

“You were doing 60 or 70mph in a 30mph zone…There is no doubt whatsoever that your driving was extremely dangerous. The only mitigating factor is that you were not under the influence of drink or drugs. You were, as it happened, insured…

“The risks were huge – absolutely huge.”

The judge imposed eight months detention but suspended the sentence for two years.

He banned Whitfield from driving for two years, saying he must pass another test before he can drive unaccompanied after his ban.

In addition, the defendant – now working as a chef in Glasgow – must complete 30 days of rehabilitation and pay prosecution costs of £250.

“I have come to the conclusion you are worth taking a risk with…Comply with the orders and don’t commit any further offences.

“If you do breach the orders, or commit further offences, you'll be back before me and the sentence you get will start at eighth months.”