Dad-of-four admits dangerous driving after crashing into two vehicles and skipping red light in Audi

A disqualified driver who crashed into two vehicles waiting at a red light when he was spotted by police has been spared jail.

By Emika Berry
Thursday, 30 May, 2019, 15:37
James Bell appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.

Dad-of-four James Bell "panicked" when he saw officers and sped off through red traffic signals in a black Audi.

The 33-year-old, who was trying to escape from police, travelled along the A194 "in excess of 60 mph" in a 40 mph zone before he "mounted the curb".

He then collided into two vehicles which were waiting at a red light.

Anne Richardson, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court how the 33-year-old was spotted by police on the A19 during the early hours of August 26 last year.

Officers indicated for him to pull over as he was wanted for another matter.

However, after seeing the police car, Bell drove through a red traffic light and led police on a chase.

Miss Richardson said Bell caused "significant damage" to one of the vehicles and the driver suffered whiplash and concussion.

She said the damage to the other vehicle was not as serious.

Miss Richardson told the court how Bell fled on foot from the scene of the incident.

She said: "It took several weeks for him to be located."

Bell, who had been disqualified from driving until April 2022, was arrested and interviewed in January this year.

In a victim impact statement, read to the court, the injured man described how he had vomited twice and could not go to work later that day.

He said his car had to be written off as a result of the incident which has caused him "financial unease".

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He said: "The impact of the crash was not realised until about an hour later. I was told after inspection by a nurse that I had concussion and whiplash."

"In short, the incident has taken from me energy, time and money."

Bell, of Palmer Crescent, Hebburn, South Tyneside, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

He also admitted driving whilst disqualified, failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident and driving without insurance.

Bell was also sentenced for breaching a suspended sentence which he received on March 17, 2017, for similar offences.

Fiona Lamb, mitigating, told the court how Bell is a father of four children and works full time through a construction agency.

She said: "He went to pick a friend up, he knew he shouldn't have been driving and when he saw the police he panicked. Now that is something that he deeply regrets."

She said that a custodial sentence would take him off what she suggested was a "very positive path".

Mr Recorder Thomas Moran spoke of the pre-sentence report on Bell and said: "The report speaks of you as having made a marked improvement.

"You have aspirations of getting even better paid work should you retain your liberty."

Mr Recorder Moran took Bell's progress into consideration and sentenced him to a nine month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Bell was also ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work and pay £2,000 compensation to the injured victim and pay a fine of £100 for breaching his suspended sentence.

Mr Recorder Moran also disqualified Bell from driving for a period of five years and ordered him to have to take an extended re-test before driving again.