A DANGEROUS driver with a baby in the car led police on a 140mph chase which only ended when officers deliberately collided with the vehicle.

Bolton Crown Court heard that after the stolen John Cooper Works Mini crashed in Kearsley police heard screams coming from the vehicle and realised Christopher Walsh's partner and baby were on board.

"The officers, on pushing back the air bags in the back of the vehicle, located a female with a very small child being carried on her knee," said Suzanne Hargreaves, prosecuting.

She added that an ambulance was called but they were not injured.

Judge Graeme Smith was told that the three -year-old Mini Cooper had been stolen in a burglary in Stockport on December 2 last year.

Then at 7.40pm on December 23 police found the vehicle, using false registration plates, near Rivington Services on the M61.

The Mini was being driven by Walsh, who has 13 previous convictions for driving whilst banned, at 120mph, accelerating to 140mph when spotted by police at the start of a 12.9 mile chase.

"He was observed to weave between the motorway lines before leaving the motorway at Junction 3," said Miss Hargreaves.

Walsh approached the Kearsley roundabout at 60mph, forcing his way past a broken down car and turning into Stoneclough Road, overtaking cars on the wrong side of the carriageway

After veering into Hulme Road he careered around residential streets.

"He drove at speeds of up to 60mph, again on the wrong side of carriageway and into the path of oncoming vehicles," said Miss Hargreaves.

When 40-year-old Walsh headed back towards the Kearsley roundabout, pursuing officers feared he was about to re-enter the motorway.

"PC Holcroft became aware that Mr Walsh appeared to be trying to get back onto the M61, but intended to drive onto it the wrong way," said Miss Hargreaves.

"He then positioned his vehicle to the nearside of Mr Walsh in order to prevent him going down the slip road."

But Walsh slewed the Mini into the police car.

"It was so hard that it caused the two offside wheels of the police vehicle to be lifted off the carriageway," said Miss Hargreaves.

She added that, as the Mini pulled ahead and started to speed off, the officer decided to take action.

"Given the nature of the driving he executed what he describes as a 'tactical contact' - he collided with the Mini in order to stop the car," said Miss Hargreaves.

After the air bags deployed, Walsh clambered out of the vehicle, stated there was a child in the car and refused to take a drug test

In a statement read to the court the PC Holcroft said he had been shocked when he learned a baby was in the Mini.

"I honestly believe he would have travelled down the opposing side of the motorway towards oncoming vehicles which could easily have resulted in fatalities," he added.

Thomas Worsfold, defending, said Walsh had panicked when he saw the police car.

"He accepts it was entirely idiotic behaviour," he added.

Walsh, of Lord Street, Salford, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving whilst banned and failing to provide a specimen as well as handling stolen property.

Judge Smith jailed him for 22 months after telling him his driving was "almost as bad a case of dangerous as is possible to image" and any attempt to blame the police for the collision was a "complete delusion".

"The risk you placed other people at was very high indeed, said the judge.

Walsh was also banned from driving for 70 months after which he will have to take an extended test.

"Frankly, I don't think it will make the slightest difference because it it quite clear to me that, unless something dramatic changes in your life, you are just going to drive when you come out anyway," commented Judge Smith.