A DRUGGED-UP driver behind the wheel of a stolen car was only stopped when police used a stinger to end a 16 minute high speed chase.

William Bates attempted to flee the Hyundai after it was brought to a halt in Washacre, Westhoughton.

Bolton Crown Court heard that 44-year-old Bates tested positive for cocaine and benzoylecgonine.

Peter Horgan, prosecuting, told how police first spotted the Hyundai, which was being driven on false number plates, on Plodder Lane at 10.20pm on February 9 last year.

When the Hyundai pulled onto a petrol station forecourt, police vehicles attempted to block it in.

"But the defendant evaded those attempts and drove off the forecourt at speed, narrowly missing a vehicle on the road," said Mr Horgan.

For more than quarter of an hour Bates tried to escape police, driving through Bolton, Atherton and Westhoughton at speeds of up to 80mph on 40mph limit carriageways and at 50mph on 20mph roads.

Mr Horgan told how Bates, who had two passengers on board, drove through red lights, caused other motorists to brake sharply, went around roundabouts the wrong way, drove on the opposite carriageway and, at one point, headed along a one-way street in the opposite direction.

"The pursuit only came to an end when a stinger was deployed by police, forcing the vehicle to a stop," said Mr Horgan.

Bates, of Formby Avenue, Atherton, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, two counts of drug driving and having no insurance. The court heard that he has convictions for 16 previous offences, including drink driving.

The court was told Bates walks with the aid of crutches and has hip and spinal problems.

Mark Phillips, defending, said Bates, who often has to use a wheelchair and has recently also been diagnosed with COPD, accepts full responsibility for his actions.

Recorder Tom Gilbart sentenced Bates to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years and told him he had only narrowly avoided going to jail immediately.

"This was an absolutely appalling piece of driving. You should be utterly ashamed of yourself," he told him.

Bates was also ordered to wear an electronic tag and will be subject to an 8pm to 6am curfew for four months.

He was told he must participate in 36 days of rehabilitation activities and was banned from driving for three years, after which he will have to take an extended retest.