A DRINKER celebrating his 21st birthday stole his pal's van and was caught driving it without headlights by police.

At Bolton Crown Court Recorder Eric Lamb was told how Joseph Mayren refused to stop for officers and the chase, at speeds of up to 60mph in a 40mph limit, only ended when he lost control on a roundabout and crashed into bollards.

William Magill, prosecuting, said Mayren, of Craven Court, Horwich, had gone to the Bridge Inn at Horwich ion November 24 last year to celebrate his birthday.

But while there, without permission, took the keys to his friend, Ashley Lambert's Citroen Berlingo van and drove off.

At 2am police spotted the van, without headlights on, stopped at red traffic lights at the junction of Topp Way and St Peter's Way, Bolton.

But instead of stopping for officers, Mayren sped off, refusing to stop until he reached Doffcocker roundabout and lost control, ploughing into bollards at speed.

Mayren ran off along Delph Hill, but was caught a short time later trying to climb over a garden wall.

He told police: "I'm sorry, I need to see my son."

Mr Magill said that the defendant was under the impression that, as it was the early hours of the morning, he could not have hurt anyone.

Mayren, who had drunk almost twice the legal level of alcohol, pleaded guilty to drink driving, taking a vehicle without consent then driving dangerously, having no insurance and having no licence.

Nicholas Ross, defending, said the incident was out of character and Mayren has no previous convictions.

"The defendant's assertion that there was no danger is clearly wrong," said Mr Ross.

"He accepts that what he did and the manner of what he did was inexcusable."

Recorder Eric Lamb sentenced Mayren to four months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered him to do 150 hours unpaid work as well as undertake 15 days of rehabilitation activity.

He was also banned from holding a driving licence for 18 months.

Recorder Lamb told him: "It is mere good fortune that, at 2am, there were no other vehicles or pedestrians about. They would have had every bit as much chance of being injured by you as those bollards."