A MAN on licence from prison told a court that he had illegally driven a car after learning his grandmother was ill.

At Bolton Crown Court Byron Johnson claimed he had borrowed a friend's car to get to his relative's home after receiving a phone call.

But the Volvo car was spotted being driven in Egerton Street, Farnworth, by police who suspected it of going through a red light at 1.50am on February 12.

A one minute pursuit ensued through 30mph streets.

"The officers got up to 60mph, although it may well be they were gaining on the defendant at that stage. His maximum speed, they estimate, was probably in the region of 50mph," said David Lees, prosecuting.

"It was a relatively short chase during which the defendant went through at least one red light.".

The pursuit came to an end when 27-year-old Johnson, who had been weaving through back streets and alleyways, found his way blocked by bollards in one alley.

Watching the pursuing police car's video, Judge Timothy Stead saw Johnson and his female passenger get out of the car and run off.

"He appeared to be locking the car as he fled," said Judge Stead.

"It looked that way anyway."

Johnson, of Balmoral Road, Farnworth, was caught a short distance away.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, having no insurance or licence and possessing cocaine.

Claire Brocklebank, defending, told the judge: "He had a phone call from his grandmother.

"She had fallen ill, she sounded distressed, she lives close by and he decided to borrow a car to get to her.

"That was foolish but that was the reason for him driving."

The court heard how, at the time, Johnson was on licence from prison after serving part of a 28 month jail term for heroin and cocaine dealing.

Apart from the latest offence, a probation report stated that he had been making good progress.

Judge Stead sentenced Johnson to an 18 month community order during which he must attend 21 days of a Thinking Skills programme and participate in 15 days of rehabilitation activities.

He was also banned from applying for a driving licence for 23 months and will have to take an extended driving test.