An ‘appalling’ and dangerous driver who had been drinking at a nightclub drove through park trails as police chased him.
Aaron George, 32, had stolen his girlfriend Lisa Barton’s Audi when the two parted ways after an argument.
Continuing the case, Paul Cummings said George was seen at 6.30am on Saturday May 14, stumbling out of a nightclub, before getting into the driver’s seat of the white Audi with two friends riding in also in the car.
A concerned member of the public called the police who began to search for the vehicle.
After locating the car at around 7.20am, officers and a police helicopter followed the car in a very long chase, with George leading the car through Thompson Park into the city.
The police helicopter watched George drive on the paths through the park, with recorder Paul Hodgkinson saying he was lucky no one was injured or even killed, but it “could have been very different”.
After leaving the park, George continued to try to evade the police, driving through alleys and side streets before forcing an unmarked police cruiser into a parked car.
George appeared to start losing steering control after it appeared that a tire had deflated.
When police finally managed to stop the vehicle after a chase of more than 10 minutes, they said there was a strong smell of alcohol coming from the car and it was clear that George was very drunk.
By way of mitigation, Philip Holden said George’s driving in the park was not “very fast”, but accepted that the dangerous element resulted from the risk to the public, the location of the driving and the condition of the accused at the time of the offence.
Mr Holden said: ‘This is appalling conduct, but there may be worse cases of conduct than this court has seen.
“It’s not the speed but the circumstances of this incident.”
He added that George “bitterly regretted” his actions and pleaded guilty as soon as he had the chance.
Mr Holden added that George is now back in a relationship and has two children, aged four and 10.
Recorder Paul Hodgkinson said George, of Bevan Place, Nelson, could have killed someone that morning.
He said: “You drove through red lights, you drove the wrong way on roadways into traffic, you drove on sidewalks, you drove on sidewalks, you drove through a park.
“All this time, you were unable to drive because of your drunkenness and drug addiction.
“Fortunately, you didn’t hurt anyone, or worse, kill anyone.
“You put pedestrians in danger, you don’t care because you only had one thing in mind and you were protecting yourself from the police.”
George had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated taking vehicle, dangerous driving, failing to provide a specimen, driving without a license and driving without insurance.
He was jailed for 16 months and banned from driving for three years and seven months.
His license has been approved and he must pass a further extended test before getting back behind the wheel.