A COURIER who led police on a chase in a car which had two wheels that had disintegrated down to the rims has been spared prison.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Ashley Michael Wood, 23, had driven over a police stinger in Crown Point Road, Burnley, and continued his escape bid for up to five minutes while debris flew off his tyres and sparks came off the wheel trims.

Prosecutor Kate Hammond said Wood only stopped close to Burnley Crematorium when his vehicle was no longer capable of being driven.

When questioned by police Wood, who has a previous conviction for drink-driving, said he had had two pints of lager before the pursuit which started at around 12.30am on June 18 and was concerned he was over the limit.

CCTV footage played in court showed Wood driving his blue Vauxhall Astra GSI over speed bumps in Harold Lane at 40mph, before reaching speeds of up to 54mph going along Accrington Road which has a speed limit 30mph.

As Wood approached the junction with Rossendale Road he was driving at 45mph in a 30mph zone, the court heard.

Ms Hammond said Wood only stopped the vehicle, which was being driven on two rims, when he realised it was too damaged to drive.

She said: "This was a police pursuit. There was another vehicle present. Luckily nobody was hurt. There were passengers in the defendant's vehicle. The tyres were deflated to such an extent they were down to the rims."

Wood, of Burnley Road East, Whitewell Bottom, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. But a second charge of driving without insurance was sent back to Blackburn Magistrates Court.

Defending, Jonathan Norman, said his client had problems with his decision making and could not explain why he had not stopped after going over the stinger.

Mr Norman said: "He said because he has seen an incident earlier on that evening he thought there was lots of police cars flying around looking for people involved in that incident. He didn't see anyone trying to stop him. It's only when he goes over the stinger he realises he is being chased by the police. A red mist descended and he continued to drive. Fortunately for him there has been no accidents. There were no pedestrians around and it was a period of time where the roads are particularly quiet. It is hard to understand why he made the decision to keep driving."

Judge Phillip Parry sentenced Wood, who runs online courier business AMW-UK Ltd, to nine months imprisonment but suspended it for two years. He also made him subject of a two-month curfew, banned him from driving for three years, ordered him to complete 100 unpaid work and a 25 0day rehabilitation activity requirement. Wood must also pay £350 prosecution costs.

Judge Parry said: "You could have killed somebody."