Judge slams Blackpool teenage driver’s road record as ‘shocking’

A judge told how someone could easily have been killed after a runaway teenage driver led police on a car chase through a busy Blackpool estate.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th March 2015, 11:00 am
James Morrison, sentenced to eight months youth custody for dangerous driving, no insurance, drink driving and driving while disqualified
James Morrison, sentenced to eight months youth custody for dangerous driving, no insurance, drink driving and driving while disqualified

Recorder Bob Crawford told 18-year-old James Morrison that his driving was “alarming” and “shocking” after he sped through busy roads between Mereside and Grange Park, drove the wrong way down a carriageway and even sped across a children’s play area as he tried to escape police.

Despite only being old enough to have legally driven for a year, Morrison has a shocking criminal record running to 28 pages, made up of a catalogue of motoring, violence and burglary offences.

He has now been detained for eight months after being dealt with for his two latest crimes.

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James Morrison sped across the play area in Grange Park

But campaigners today said the sentence was too lenient and branded Morrison’s driving “dangerous, lawless behaviour which puts the lives of others at risk.”

Morrison, 18, was already a banned driver when he became involved in the police pursuit in December, driving off-road at one point between two play areas.

Charles Brown, prosecuting, said an automatic number plate recognition scanner on Kentmere Road, Mereside, alerted police to the fact that the Peugeot car Morrison was driving was not insured, sparking the pursuit.

But Morrison then “took off”, the court heard.

He sped into Grizedale Road, causing an oncoming driver to stop and mount the pavement, before driving down the wrong side of the road.

Oncoming vehicles were forced to slam on their brakes to avoid a crash, before Morrison turned on to Branstree Road and drove at 50mph.

He then turned into Bowness Avenue, and despite it only being early evening, he turned off his lights, mounted the pavement and drove between two play areas in a bid to evade police.

The car was eventually found abandoned on Troutbeck Avenue.

Recorder Crawford, the judge dealing with his case at Preston Crown Court, said “Someone could have been injured or killed in that chase through the estate and across the grass.

“It is alarming to think of the possible consequences”.

Yet, two months later, Morrison was involved in a second incident of disqualified driving.

He was seen speeding in a Ford Focus on Lytham Road, Blackpool. When stopped and spoken to Morrison smelled strongly of drink.

He gave a breath alcohol reading that was one and a half times over the limit.

He has now been given eight months youth custody, with the judge telling him: “I would be failing in my public duty if I did not impose an immediate sentence”.

Morrison, of Rusland Avenue, Blackpool, admitted two sets of driving while disqualified charges and not having insurance, as well as dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol.

The judge described Morrison’s criminal record as “shocking”. He also gave him an 18-month driving ban, with an extended retest.

Recorder Crawford added: “You have a record which runs to a total of 28 pages. You have received many non-custodial sentences and one custodial sentence, detention and training, in the past.”

But Kevin Delaney, head of road safety policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists - a road safety charity, said: “This is the sort of dangerous, lawless behaviour that puts the lives of other road users at risk.

“This kind of behaviour shows someone who doesn’t care about anyone else.

“Driving to this level of danger and gravity, I think he is very lucky to get such a light sentence. The people of Blackpool can only hope he learns from it.”