Man avoids jail after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance

He was caught by police after officers saw him using his phone at the wheel.
Newcastle Crown Court.Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.

A banned motorist drove dangerously after being caught using a phone behind the wheel of an uninsured car while taking his dog home from the vet.

Reece Hepplewhite had a mobile "held up to his face" when a police sergeant saw him behind the wheel of a Ford Focus on Boldon Lane, South Shields, South Tyneside, at 3am on April 18.

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Newcastle Crown Court heard a check revealed the vehicle was not insured and the officer activated his patrol car's blue lights and sirens in a bid to get the the Focus to stop.

But instead of pulling over, Hepplewhite accelerated to 60mph in the 30mph zone, went through a red light then turned onto Mortimer Road, where he drove on the wrong side of the carriageway.

The officer did not chase the vehicle but it was found outside an address at Marshall Wallace Road in the town and Hepplewhite was inside the property.

He confessed he had been behind the wheel while banned but said he needed to get his dog back home.

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Shaun Routledge, defending, said Hepplewhite co-operated fully with the police and the dog ended up "fine".

Mr Routledge said Hepplewhite has lost the tenancy on his home while remanded in custody and he has never been to prison before.

Hepplewhite, 21, of St Marks Way, South Shields, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and using a mobile phone while driving.

Judge Robert Adams sentenced him to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements, 150 hours unpaid work and a two year road ban with extended test requirement.

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Judge Adams said: "You made the decision to drive to take your dog to the vet and needed to get it home."

The judge said he accepted Hepplewhite is remorseful and regrets his decision to drive.

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