A LEARNER driver who ended a police pursuit by crashing into a tree could have caused a fatal crash, a court has heard.

Ateeq Turk, 22, was out at 2.30am on May 9, 2020, dealing cocaine to pay off a drug debt from his cannabis habit.

Sessions House Court in Preston heard how the man was spotted on Preston New Road, Blackburn, turning onto Montague Street by a police officer who looked up the details of the car, a Volkswagen Golf, and followed him.

The defendant was driving slowly, with the PC believing he was finding somewhere to pull over.

Prosecuting, Joseph Hart said: “Suddenly, the Golf sped away and it was clear that the driver was not stopping.”

The pursuit went on for about three minutes, with Turk driving in residential areas at speeds of 40mph.

When turning from Manor Road to Crosshill Road, Turk, who was uninsured and on a provisional licence, lost control of the car and crashed it into a tree.

When police had him in handcuffs, they searched the car and found wraps of cannabis and cocaine, with some concealed in a mints tin.

Police also found drug equipment, £175 in cash and a Samsung mobile phone.

He was taken to hospital before being taken back to the station where he tested positive for ‘excessive’ levels of cannabis.

Defending, Rachel Woods said Turk was dealing drugs to pay off a drug debt he had accrued from his use of cannabis.

She said: “He realised, when the police had seen him in that car that evening, that he was about to be stopped – he panicked.”

Turk, of Whalley Old Road, Blackburn, said that he uses cannabis to help his mental health and that he was struggling after his mother had moved to Scotland after separating from his father.

After the separation, his father moved to London, with Turk deciding to remain in Blackburn but became homeless, relying on friends to give him a roof over his head each night.

Turk only had one previous caution and Miss Woods argued that he was ‘inexperienced’ and played a ‘lower role’ in the drug dealing.

Judge Graham Knowles sentenced him to two years in prison.

He said: “The tree that you hit could have been a person or could have been a vehicle with a family in. You could have killed someone.”

Turk pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, possession of a class A drug with intent to supply and possession of a class B drug.

He also had his licence suspended for three years.