A DRIVER was spotted by police travelling at 100mph on a motorway hard shoulder in a Mercedes which had been stolen in a break-in at a vehicle compound.

The Mercedes, which had previously been stolen from its owner, had been stored, along with other vehicles recovered by police, at the Hough Green garage in Union Road, Bolton.

But the £15,000 car was one of a number of vehicles taken from the garage during a break-in on the night of September 8.

In the early hours of the following day police chased it, with 35-year-old Adam Bannister at the wheel, towards Bolton.

The car was driven so badly what when Bannister finally abandoned it after crashing into a wall on Stanway Avenue, Deane, the brakes were smouldering and officers had to use a fire extinguisher.

William Donnelly, prosecuting, told Bolton Crown Court how Bannister, who has convictions for 90 previous offences, was found lying under a nearby hedge.

The court heard how the Hough Fold garage is regularly used by police forces to store stolen and recovered vehicles.

"The are a significant number of vehicles of various types stored within their compound," said Mr Donnelly.

But when staff arrived for work at 7.30am on September 9 they found that the gates had been rammed and doors and shutters had padlocks removed.

Several vehicles were taken, including a silver Mercedes E220.

"It was awaiting processing back to the owner," said Mr Donnelly.

At 1.30am that same morning a police officer was on his way to an incident, travelling southbound on the M61 near Rivington services with his emergency equipment activated.

Most vehicles got out of his way, except a Mercedes which was straddling two lanes.

"It then veered towards the hard shoulder and accelerated along the hard shoulder at up to 100mph," said Mr Donnelly.

"The police officer, who was on his way elsewhere, now diverted his attention to that Mercedes driven by Mr Bannister."

The car left the motorway at the Chequerbent roundabout, heading towards Bolton, driving on Wigan Road at 80mph, around the Beaumont Chase estate at 40mph and through red traffic lights before heading down Deane Road and eventually coming to a halt in Stanway Avenue.

The car collided with a wall.

"Such was the nature of this pursuit that the brake discs of the Mercedes were smouldering and the officer used the fire extinguisher from his own vehicle in order to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out," said Mr Donnelly.

Bannister, of Spring Gardens, Atherton, told police he had been paid to deliver the car.

The court heard that he has previously served lengthy prison sentences for offences including robbery and burglary and has never passed a driving test.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, handling stolen goods, and driving without a licence or insurance.

Tom Watson, defending, told Judge Tom Gilbart: "The defendant is probably an institutionalised man. There is no hiding the fact that he will find prison easier to deal with than life outside."

He added that Bannister had been in need of money for heroin when he committed his latest offences.

Judge Gilbart sentenced Bannister to 14 months in prison and banned him from driving for four years and six months, after which he will have to take an extended test.

He told the defendant that his driving had been "quite shocking".

"It was clearly dangerous, selfish and did not give consideration to others," he added.