A FORMER international motorbike star has been jailed for dangerous driving.
Joseph Gregory – who once represented Great Britain in the world motocross finals – almost mowed down a police officer, narrowly avoided a crash with a police car and drove on a pavement to get around red lights.
Preston Crown Court heard Gregory, from Poulton, had fallen in with the wrong crowd after suffering a knee injury which shattered his sporting ambitions.
And sentencing him to 12 months behind bars, a judge told him: “It is sheer luck no-one was injured or killed.”
The 21-year-old, of Argyle Road, admitted dangerous driving relating to the events on March 21.
David Clarke, prosecuting, told how a police community support officer was heading to Booths supermarket in Poulton when he saw the defendant on foot.
He knew that by being in Poulton, Gregory was breaching conditions of police bail he was on at the time.
The officer went towards him and shouted for him to stop but the defendant got into a parked Mercedes car.
Mr Clarke said: “The vehicle was put into reverse gear. It shot backwards. The officer maintains the defendant could easily have seen him as he was only 2ft from the rear of the vehicle.
“He had also put his hand up for him to stop. The officer says it was a fast acceleration out of the parking space.
“Fearing for his safety, the officer moved to the side and says he would have been knocked down if he had not taken evasive action.
“The Mercedes then left the car park and went onto Tithebarn Street at high speed.”
Three other officers were in a marked vehicle and when the Mercedes drove right in front of them, a constable had to brake hard to avoid a collision.
The car sped up to the Queensway junction where two vehicles were waiting at red lights.
A PC got out to approach Gregory who suddenly drove off, onto the pavement for about 15 yards.
He drove around the traffic lights and back onto Queensway before going back down Tithebarn Street.
It was not possible for police to follow him any further at that stage.
One officer had felt it was sheer luck no-one was injured by the “reckless” actions of the driver.
Waheed Omran-Baber, defending, said the offence had been born out of “sheer stupidity”.
Mr Omran-Baber added: “He apologises profusely to the officers concerned.
“He didn’t intend to cause anybody any injury, but appreciates the manner of the driving could have put him at risk of a collision with other road users and pedestrians. He is ashamed of his behaviour.”
The barrister told the court how Gregory had left education to pursue a career in motocross but “lost all direction” following an accident involving a knee injury which caused his dreams to shatter around him.
Mr Omran-Baber added “He had a strict regime of exercise and training. He doesn’t have that now.
“He is like one of those people who is in the Armed Forces and comes home with nothing to go to, no home, no job.
“He got in with the wrong type of people.
“He wants to start building his life again. There is a distinct possibility he may be able to start again as a motocross rider.
“His sponsors have suggested they are prepared to sponsor him again, if he can prove his fitness.”
Judge Heather Lloyd told Gregory as she passed sentence: “You drove as you did because you knew you shouldn’t have been in Poulton.
“It was a deliberate course of action to avoid detection. In doing so, you put the lives of other road users and pedestrians in danger”.
Gregory was also given a three year road ban and must pass an extended test before getting behind the wheel again.