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Legless driver in 80mph car chase


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A double amputee has been jailed for a year after leading police on a high-speed car pursuit, using modified broom handles to control the vehicle.

The three-mile chase ended when Robert Bate crashed through a fence near Hawthorn, County Durham, in January.


When officers examined his automatic Vauxhall Astra they found the wooden poles duct-taped to the pedals.


Bate, 27, of Seventh Street, Blackhall, admitted dangerous driving when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.


The court heard that a marked police car spotted the Astra on a stretch of the B1285 near Hawthorn.


It stopped briefly when police activated their sirens and blue lights, but then sped off unexpectedly towards a retail park in nearby Murton.


After three miles, the car left the road and careered through a fence and hedgerow before stopping in a farmer's field.


Melinda Blackburn, prosecuting, said: "When the Astra was examined, police noticed there was a couple of implements attached to the pedals with ducting tape to help him drive the vehicle due to the fact he is a double amputee.


"Broom handles were attached to the accelerator and brake pedal."


Bate, who lost his legs in a rail accident when he was aged nine, had traces of heroin and cocaine in his blood at the time of the incident.


Nick Cartmell, defending, told the court: "He recognises now that this was a foolish and stupid exercise.


"At nine-years-old tragedy took everything from him but he hates to be reliant on anyone."


Two passengers in the Astra at the time were unhurt.


After hearing how he fled at high speed through former mining villages, Judge David Hodson told him it was a miracle nobody else was injured.


Bate also admitted driving while unfit through drink or drugs, driving without a licence, driving without insurance and failing to stop.


In addition to the 12-month jail sentence, he was banned from driving for two years.



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