Wigan motorist reached speeds of up to 100mph during winding Lake District road police chase

A dangerous Wigan driver who reached speeds of more than 100mph on a treacherous Lake District road during a terrifying car chase has been spared prison.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 10:26 am
Treacherous roads on the Kirkstone Pass
Treacherous roads on the Kirkstone Pass

Bernard Joseph Ward, 26, even switched off the lights of his Volkswagen Passat and ignored a speed camera as he sped away from officers during the 30-mile night-time pursuit.

The drama unfolded during the early hours of June 30 between Penrith - where Ward was living at the time - and Kendal.

He was sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court by Judge Peter Hughes QC, having pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

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Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson said police saw Ward pass through a red light on the outskirts of Penrith as they began to follow him just before 1am.

In darkness he switched off his car lights several times, heading past picturesque Ullswater and through Patterdale before driving up and down the steep Kirkstone Pass - said to be the highest Lakes pass open to motor traffic which has a gradient, in parts, of 25 per cent.

Ward travelled between 40 and 60mph at that stage, said Mr Rogerson, “which was considered an inappropriate speed bearing in mind the torturous nature of the road”.

On lower ground and longer, straighter surfaces, police then reached between 100 and 110mph before Ward eventually pulled over.

“Certainly the aggravating feature is the hugely inappropriate speeds for these Lakeland roads,” added Mr Rogerson.

Ward, a father-of-two who made no comment when interviewed, was represented in court by lawyer Greg Hoare.

“What is mystifying even to Mr Ward now is why he didn’t stop before he did,” said Mr Hoare, who described the driving as “bad, but not the worst”.

One suggestion was that Ward’s father, a passenger in the car at the time, may have thought police wanted to speak with him about another matter.

Taking into account the motorist’s guilty plea and lack of previous convictions, Judge Hughes concluded that his eight-month prison sentence for dangerous driving should be suspended for two years.

And Ward, of Gas Street, Platt Bridge, must also complete 200 hours’ unpaid work and observe a 12-week night-time curfew.

He was banned from driving for 18 months, and told that he must pass an extended re-test once he is eligible to return to the roads.

“What you did really is quite astonishing,” Judge Hughes told the defendant.

“It was an incredibly dangerous and reckless piece of driving.”