Danger driving dad on kiddies’ off-road bike mounted pavement in police chase through Hartlepool

A dad-of-three who was “test driving” his son’s dirt bike, sped off when the police pulled up behind him and indicated for him to pull over.

Leon Francis, 31, accelerated away on the dirt bike, that had no number plate and is not designed to be used on roads, as police chased him down Hartlepool’s Raby Road, on the afternoon of May 6, last year. He drove through red lights and up onto the pavement, despite pedestrians near York Road, and the police activating their sirens.

Teesside Crown Court has heard that Francis only stopped because the bike lost power, after a problem with its wheel.

When he was arrested, officers reported that he smelt strongly of cannabis and a search found that he had the class B drug on him. Francis, of Chatham Road, Dyke House, Hartlepool, admitted dangerous driving; driving with no insurance; driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence; the possession of cannabis; and failing to stop.

On Friday, Stephen Constantine, mitigating, said that the bike was bought for Francis’ 12-year-old son and “he says he was test driving it. The police still have it.” Mr Constantine said that two of Francis’ sons spend time with him and that his third son has recently moved in with him.

Mr Constantine said that the offence involved, “a relatively short chase, in distance and in time – it was two minutes on a straight road. He behaved stupidly. He understands that today, you could deprive him of his liberty. This is a plea for mercy on his behalf.”

Judge Andrew Walker told Francis: “You chose to take an off-road bike onto Hartlepool’s roads. You had no driving licence or insurance. When a police car drove up behind you at traffic lights, you chose to drive off. You swerved between vehicles on York Road. You mounted the footpath near a cemetary where there were a number of pedestrians..”

Francis was handed an eight-month prison term, suspended for 18-months, ordered to attend 20 rehabilitation days, carry out 100-hours of unpaid work, and was disqualified from driving for two-years.

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