'Idiot' Sunderland danger driver sent car 'airborne' during 80mph police chase through South Shields and Jarrow

An "idiot" dangerous driver's vehicle became "airborne" when he travelled at almost 80mph despite having never driven before.

Mark Swinhoe was spotted by officers in South Shields in the early hours of the August Bank Holiday and sped away from them.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the 28-year-old had not ever driven before when he got behind the wheel of his friend's car.

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Prosecutor Neil Pallister said: "In the early hours of the 29th of August, at about 2:45, police constables were on police patrol duty driving an unmarked police vehicle in South Shields.

Mark Swinhoe.

"They were driving on John Reid Road in a south-easterly direction approaching a crossroads traffic light-controlled junction."

The court heard that the officers noticed a VW Golf driven by the defendant, which was initially heading in the same direction as them, before it made a sharp turn towards Perth Avenue.

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Mr Pallister added that the car that the defendant was driving became "airborne" due to the speed over the speedbumps during the pursuit, which lasted around 40 seconds.

He said: "The speed limit along that road is 20mph with several speed bumps covering the road.

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"However, the officers described the Golf reaching speeds of 70mph in what's a residential area with parked vehicles on either side of the road."

The court then heard that one of the police officers described the car's speed as close to 80mph during the chase.

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Mr Pallister said: "The chase came to a halt because the far end of Perth Avenue is effectively a dead end.

"The driver got out and ran off. He was chased by the police officer and detained."

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Swinhoe, who has five previous convictions recorded against him, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, no insurance, and driving without a licence.

David Callan, mitigating, said: "It was foolish he took his friend's car. This defendant, to the best of my knowledge, has never driven before.

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"He has been out of trouble for seven years. There have been no previous offences of this nature.

"He has children to two different women, but it seems he fulfils full responsibilities as a father.

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"The pleas of guilt to these matters were made at the first available opportunity."

Mr Recorder Anthony Dunne branded Swinhoe an "idiot" for his driving but accepted that he was able to avoid sending him straight to prison.

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The judge said: "You had never sat a driving test. You had never been legally able to drive.

"It seems for whatever reason, in the early hours of the 29th of August that it didn't stop you from getting behind the wheel of a car.

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"When you saw the police, you tried to drive away from them."

But the judge said he was prepared to give him another chance and sentenced him to six months imprisonment, suspended for a year.

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Swinhoe, of Hayton Close, Sunderland, must also complete 100 hours of unpaid work and 32 rehabilitation days.

He was also banned from driving for 18 months and must pass an extended test.