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Window cleaner in two police chases through Burnley jailed
A WINDOW cleaner who sparked two police chases within two weeks and almost ran down an officer has been jailed for a year.
Police believe Darren Stewart, 28, had been drunk both times when he was chased in his works Transit van around Burnley town centre.
Stewart, of Highfield Crescent, Barrowford, admitted two counts of dangerous driving and one of failing to provide a specimen.
He was banned for three years and must take an extended retest.
Sarah Statham, prosecuting, said at 10.50pm, on January 6, police started to follow the defendant after he went round a roundabout at speed.
He was all over the road and weaving from left to right on Trafalgar Street and officers thought he might have been drinking.
As he approached Gannow Top roundabout other vehicles had to take evasive action, he went through red lights, skidded on a left hand bend and almost had a crash.
Stewart swerved sharply into Accrington Road, the van stopped outside a pub, two passengers got out and three officers went towards the vehicle.
He then drove off at speed and an officer had to jump out of the way. The defendant mounted the kerb, made off and police lost him.
An officer who had got to the open driver's window before Stewart sped off said he appeared drunk, his eyes were glazed and he looked vacant. The defendant was arrested the day after and claimed he had had one pint to drink.
Miss Statham said Stewart appeared in court on January 17 and at 2.10am the next day one of the officers recognised the van being driven from Padiham to Burnley, at speed. She and her colleague followed in an unmarked vehicle.
The defendant turned sharply into a residential street and mounted the pavement. A marked police car took up the pursuit using its lights and sirens. Stewart drove erratically down various streets. The van then drove towards the unmarked police vehicle, did a U-turn and drove at the marked vehicle, forcing the driver to have to make a quick reverse.
The van was abandoned nearby and Stewart was detained a short distance away.
The defendant, who had 19 previous convictions, was questioned the day after and largely made no comment.
Philip Holden, for Stewart, said fortunately there were no accidents and the driving was over a relatively short distance.
The offences appeared to have been an extreme reaction to the death of the defendant's mother, last December.