Danger driver crashed into railings then ‘blew raspberries’ at police, court told

A danger driver crashed into railings after travelling at up to 70mph in a bid to get away from the police who suspected he was drunk.

Officers had followed a car being driven by Lee Rylance after a tip-off that two "drunk" people were seen getting into the vehicle near a pub in SouthShields town centre in the early hours of February 25. After fleeing at high speed Rylance, 44, lost control of the vehicle andsmashed into railings, then "blew raspberries" when questioned and refused to give a breath or blood sample.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the police had spotted the car at River Drive in the town and followed, while Rylance travelled at 50mph in the 30 zone. In the minutes that followed, Rylance mounted a kerb and later came to a stop, gestured for the officer to approach his vehicle but then accelerated away again.

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The court heard he travelled to Commercial Road, mounted another kerb, travelled on the wrong side of the road and suddenly accelerated to 70mph.

The aftermath of the crash involving Lee Rylance.

Prosecutor Kate Barnes told the court: "As he drove past the magistrates court and crossed to the wrong side of the road the officer thought it best to tryand take the pressure off the driver, so reduced his speed. As the suspect approached a right hand bend, next to a pub, the driver lost control due to high speed, smashed into a railing, sent the railing flying and the vehicle spun 180 degrees."

The court heard when police approached the damaged car, Rylance said "I'm sorry" but then attempted to start the engine again. He then put up a struggle and was warned he would be tasered before he was eventually handcuffed.

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Miss Barnes said Rylance "blew raspberries in response to questions asked" when he got to the police station and although he refused to provide a specimen, police said he "appeared to be heavily under the influence of alcohol". Jessica Slaughter told the court Rylance is of previous good character with an excellent work ethic.

The court heard in the period leading up to the offences, Rylance lost his father, was made redundant from his job as a business development manager, had split from his partner and, despite finding a new job, eventually lost his home.

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Lee Rylance.

He said in an apology letter to the court: "I feel I have passed through the worse phase of my life to date and learned the lessons these situations have come to teach me. I am focused now at rebuilding my life, focus on my mental health and physical wellbeing."

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Judge Edward Bindloss sentenced Rylance to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements, 100 hours unpaid work and a two year road ban with extended test requirement.

Judge Bindloss said it was "almost certain" that Rylance had been drinking heavily before he got behind the wheel and his behaviour would ordinarily meanan immediate jail term. The judge told Rylance: "People are entitled to make one mistake in life, let this one be your mistake. This court never wants to see you again."

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Rylance, of Gibson Buildings, Ryton, Gateshead, formerly from Jarrow, admitted dangerous driving, failing to provide a specimen and driving withoutinsurance.