A FORMER soldier who fled from police in a 140mph chase has been banned from driving after a judge heard he has been undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Liam Farnworth, aged 23, served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a driver, but panicked when he was followed by plain-clothes police officers in De Havilland Way, Horwich , on November 25.
Recorder Michael Murray had heard how Farnworth did not realise they were policemen, thinking only that he was being followed by two men in hoodies and his Army training “kicked in”.
Farnworth, who left the Army in June, 2010, after six years, was an experienced driver who, Preston Crown Court was told, had used his skills on several occasions to escape an enemy.
But due to his experiences, Recorder Murray was told he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when he borrowed a Nissan 350Z from a friend.
After hitting speeds of up to 85mph in the 40mph zone in De Havilland Way, Farnworth failed to stop when the police officers turned on their blue flashing lights.
He turned on to the M61 towards Manchester and weaved in and out of traffic at speeds of up to 140mph. He left the motorway at Junction 5 and abandoned the car in Winslow Road before police caught him after a short chase on foot.
Farnworth, of Owsten Court, Horwich, had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at an earlier hearing. Yesterday the court heard of the progress he has made after treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder.
A report produced by the Military Veterans Service revealed he had responded well to treatment.
Daniel Prowse, defending, said the offence had acted as a “wake-up call” to Farnworth.
“He is a totally different person,”
He added that Farnworth now works six days a week, wakes up at 5.30am to get three buses to work and does not get home again until 8.30pm.
The judge accepted Farnworth had been suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, and was now recovering.
Recorder Murray said: “Some members of the public might have sympathy, but that in itself cannot be an excuse for driving like you did.”
Farnworth was banned from driving for 12 months and has to take a re-test at the end of that period. He was also sentenced to a community order with supervision for 12 months.
After the hearing Farnworth declined to comment except to express gratitude to the judge.