Danger driver almost hit child during high-speed getaway from police
Reece Bannister has been sentenced to 16 months behind bars after he admitted a string of driving offences relating to two separate incidents in South Shields earlier this year.
The 20-year-old narrowly avoided an immediate custodial sentence on February 25 after being convicted of dangerous driving at Newcastle Crown Court.
The court was told how Bannister led police on a high-speed pursuit during which he went at triple the speed limit, was clocked at 100mph on the A1 and drove the wrong-way on a roundabout.
He admitted a string of driving offences, including dangerous driving and driving without a licence, and escaped with a suspended prison sentence and a 12-month driving ban.
But less than a month later Bannister was back in custody after he was identified as being behind the wheel of a black Vauxhall Corsa when it collided with a parked up BMW in South Shields on March 29.
Not only was he subject to a driving ban at the time, but he was also on bail after being arrested in relation to another police pursuit on February 13 – less than two weeks before his court appearance.
On that occasion Bannister led officers on a pursuit through the streets of Jarrow, almost hitting a three-year-old child before abandoning his vehicle and fleeing the scene on foot.
He was then arrested at his partner’s home after police knocked on the door and found him out-of-breath from his foot-race with pursuing officers.
Bannister, of Netherton Avenue, North Shields, was charged in relation to both incidents and admitted six driving offences at Newcastle Crown Court at an earlier hearing.
Now he has re-appeared before the same court where a judge has handed him an immediate 16-month custodial sentence and extended driving ban.
The incident on February 13 was first reported to police by a member of the public who claimed that Bannister was driving a red BMW dangerously around the Jarrow area.
Officers on patrol located the vehicle at about 11am and signalled for it to stop but the driver instead slammed his foot on the accelerator and fled the scene.
He travelled in excess of 50mph on 30mph roads and narrowly missed a man and a three-year-old child as he attempted to turn into a rear lane.
Eventually he hit a dead end, abandoned the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. Officers later knocked on the door of his partner and Bannister was found inside.
He was out-of-breath and had changed his clothes but officers soon discovered the dirty laundry in an upstairs bedroom and he was arrested.
While Bannister was on bail for the offence, police received a report that a white BMW that was parked on Bruce Close in South Shields had been hit by another car.
The owner of the vehicle told police that a black Vauxhall Corsa had collided with the vehicle at about 11am on March 29 before the driver got out the vehicle, apologised and then fled the scene.
She was later contacted by a man who had witnessed the collision and knew it was Bannister who was behind the wheel.
He was interviewed by police and denied being the driver but later admitted charges of driving whilst disqualified, driving with no insurance and failing to report an accident.
Bannister was also later charged with dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving with no insurance in relation to the initial incident on February 13.
As well as the custodial sentence handed to him on Thursday, Bannister was given an extended two year and eight month driving ban.
Reece Bannister, who was already banned from the roads, avoided colliding with the youngster only because their quick-acting parent grabbed them out of the way.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that the 20-year-old got behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in February and the manor of his driving was reported to the police by worried witnesses.
Officers located Bannister in Jarrow, where he failed to stop and a chase broke out.
Jonathan Gittins, prosecuting, told the court: "Officers received reports of someone driving dangerously in Jarrow, South Tyneside.
"After quickly turning left on the chase, he narrowly missed a child whose parent grabbed them out of the way."
The court then heard that after failing to slow down, the chase came to an end when the vehicle was found abandoned a short time later on Victoria Road in South Shields.
The offence came just twelve days before he was given a suspended prison sentence for a previous dangerous driving offence dating back to November 2019.
However, just over a month later on March 29, Bannister was back causing trouble behind the wheel, crashing into a nearby woman's parked car.
Mr Gittins added: "The woman said she saw a man get out of his vehicle, apologised, before leaving the scene.
"It left her without use of a car, and she was a key worker at the time working through the pandemic."Bannister, formerly of Netherton Avenue, North Shields in North Tyneside, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, two counts of driving whilst disqualified, two counts of driving without insurance as well as failing to report an accident.
Mr Recorder Chris Smith sentenced Bannister to 16 months behind bars and warned he could well have been facing a far serious charge had he hit the child.
He said: "There was a police chase and you narrowly avoided causing a serious injury to a young child but for the parents quick reactions it's clear you would be before the court for a very serious offence indeed.
"The dangerous driving continued and you fled the vehicle, and when you were arrested you knew you were in trouble.
"You were disqualified and behind the wheel of a car and then in March as the words ought to have been ringing in your ears driving whilst disqualified – and driving badly - there was an accident you failed to report.
"I'm asked to bare in mind that the suspended sentence didn't have long to take effect, but these were bad decisions from you."
Kate Barnes, mitigating, said: "He has had difficult family circumstances growing up.
"His aunt is a sister-like figure to him and has travelled from the south of the country to be with him today.
"He has a great deal of people who would be disappointed in him if he continues to offend."
As well as a the 16 month custodial sentence, Bannister is banned from driving for two years and eight months, and must take an extended driving test.
Following the case, Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, of Northumbria Police’s Motor Patrols Department, welcomed the jail term handed to the dangerous driver.
She said: “Reece Bannister is a young man who has his entire life ahead of him, yet he has decided to ignore the chances he has had to get on the straight and narrow.
“A judge gave him an opportunity to contribute to society, and his young family, but instead Bannister has got continued to put lives at risk with his behaviour.
“He has repeatedly got behind the wheel, despite his disqualification, and the manner of his driving at times has been absolutely appalling.
“I welcome the decision to hand him a custodial sentence as it is appears to be the only way to keep this young man from driving a car.
“Our roads are a safer place with him behind bars and I hope this sentence sends a strong message to anyone who disrespects the law in this way.”