A DANGEROUS driver's seven mile police chase ended when police punctured his tyres.

A helicopter was used and several police vehicles followed as Christopher Russ drove at up to 84 miles an hour in residential areas in a stolen Mini.

At Bolton Crown Court 20-year-old Russ was sentenced to 12 months in a young offenders' institute after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst disqualified and having no insurance.

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David Lees, prosecuting, told how the Mini was taken at 1am on October 10 from outside the owner's home in St James Street, Farnworth.

Half an hour later police spotted Russ driving it, with a man in the passenger seat, in Manchester Road, Westhoughton.

When Russ would not stop, a pursuit started and the police helicopter was called in to help.

Russ was chased round Westhoughton, through Over Hulton, before ending up in Little Hulton.

"A stinger was placed across the road and Mr Russ stopped the vehicle as a result," said Mr Lees.

"He was arrested a short distance away."

During the seven minute chase Russ reached speeds of up to 84mph, drove through red lights, failed to stop at junctions and went over speed humps at more than 40mph.

He finally ground to a halt, with flat tyres, in Mere Fold, Little Hulton.

"He said he had been trying car doors and managed to get into the vehicle. He accepted that his driving was dangerous," said Mr Lees.

Judge Richard Gioserano heard how Russ, of Bruce Street, St Helens, has gained a lengthy criminal record over the last five years, including for burglary and motoring offences and had only been released from custody just over two months earlier.

Anthony Williams, defending, described the theft of the car as a "purely opportunistic offence".

He stressed that there had been no accident or anyone injured.

"This could have been worse, " he said

"He knows it was a silly thing to do. He is deeply ashamed of himself."

Judge Gioserano told Russ: "It seems to me that you appear to be in a hurry to get yourself back into custody. That is what you have achieved."

As well as the custodial sentence, Russ was banned from applying for a driving licence for two and a half years, after which he must take an extended retest.

The judge told him: "You started offending at the age of 15 and you are not showing any signs of coming to your senses.

"If you want to try and achieve something else it's going to take effort on your part.

"You never know, you might actually make something of your life if you try."