A YOUNG motorist fleeing from the police reached more than twice the speed limit as he raced through west Cumbrian villages.

‘Panick-stricken’ Joshua Baker, 20, eventually abandoned his still-moving VW Polo – with his girlfriend still inside it – on a rugby field near Frizington before then running away, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

The defendant, of Buckle Avenue, Cleator Moor, admitted dangerous driving, having no valid licence, and having no insurance.

Prosecutor Jack Troupe described how a police patrol crew began following Baker’s car at around 9pm when they spotted him speeding along a country road near Whitehaven. Even when the police car reached a speed of 70mph in a 40mph zone, the defendant’s VW was still pulling away.

As Baker drove through Rowrah village, he was doing at least 60mph. The pursuit at one point saw the police reach 80mph in a 30mph zone but even then the VW was pulling away from them.

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The defendant’s route took him through a number of residential areas, mostly with cars parked at the side of the road.

When the VW approached a red traffic light at a section of single-lane roadworks, Baker simply sped through them, scattering cones and at one point trapping a plastic barrier beneath his car.

Mr Troupe said: “He continued to drive at 60mph as he entered Frizington village, where the speed limit drops to 30mph.” The police officers involved thought that Baker’s car reached a top speed of around 90mph.

At some point, he braked heavily and turned sharply left, driving along a footpath and on to a rugby field.

Dramatic police car dashcam footage shows Baker leaping out of his moving VW and running away into the night.

Mr Troupe said the still-moving car was travelling at a relatively low speed as Baker ran into some nearby woodland. Police did catch Baker immediately, but they found his partner next to the abandoned car.

The defendant was traced to a nearby house in Moor Place, finding him in an upstairs room hiding beside a bed.

 “He was in a state of extreme panic,” said the defendant’s barrister Brendan Burke, explaining the defendant’s attempt to outrun the police. The barrister went on to outline how background reports showed Baker lacked family support.

“But it’s much sadder than that,” said Mr Burke. He described how at as a 14-year-old Baker had moved with his father to Birmingham. “But his father just left him – abandoned him.

“Astonishingly, he was under the radar of the local authority and never subject to any family court proceedings. Somehow, he managed to survive from that age, drifting into and out of hostels.”

As a result, the defendant was less mature than most young men his age, said Mr Burke, though he had now enrolled on a college course.

Recorder Ainsworth remarked that it was more luck than judgement that the defendant was not before the court facing a more serious charge, given the 'plainly dangerous' nature of his driving.

The judge said: “It’s down to good fortune and nothing else that nobody was injured that night; at one point, you can see a cyclist on the pavement cycling near to where you passed by at speed.”

But Recorder Ainsworth noted also that Baker had not previously had prolonged help from the Probation Service, his last community order having been interrupted by him being locked up.

The judge imposed eight months detention but suspended the sentence for 18 months. Baker must complete 25 days of rehabilitation, a thinking skills course, and 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was given a two year ban and will have to pass an extended retest before he can apply for his driving licence.

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