A POLICE officer who pursued a driver hurtling along Bolton roads at 100mph described it as the most dangerous chase he has ever been involved in.

Kien Leigh refused to stop his Ford Fiesta and led the officer on a 21-minute chase through Bolton, Westhoughton, Leigh and Atherton.

At Bolton Crown Court Colin Buckle, prosecuting, said PC Thomas Berry, who was commended by the judge, Recorder Richard Hartley QC, showed "courage and real talent" during the pursuit.

"He cannot believe that this incident didn't end in some type of injury or significant damage," said Mr Buckle.

"He also says this is the most dangerous chase he has ever been in in his time in the police service."

Mr Buckle told the court how the officer spotted Leigh's Fiesta at 3.43am on February 7 last year on Park Road, Westhoughton.

He was on the look-out for a similar Fiesta which had been stolen, but Leigh refused to stop and sped off.

During the pursuit in pouring rain, Leigh careered along roads at more than double the speed limit, went through several traffic lights on red, drove on the opposite carriageway and the wrong way around roundabouts.

On St Helens Road, Bolton, he reached speeds of 100mph in a 30mph limit.

Ten minutes into the pursuit the police helicopter joined in tracking him, but an attempt to stop him in his tracks by using a stinger on Atherleigh Way, Leigh, failed.

The chase eventually ended when 22-year-old Leigh abandoned the car in Oxford Road, Atherton and tried to run off.

He was caught and arrested, telling police,"I'm sorry". He had previously been using cocaine and tested positive of for drug driving. A breath test at the police station showed he was only just below the drink driving limit.

Leigh, of Ruabon Crescent, Hindley Green, sobbed loudly in the dock as footage of the pursuit was played in court.

He has no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and drug driving.

Martin Pizzey, defending, stressed that Leigh had been out with friends and was driving his own car, which was properly taxed and insured and his offending is completely out of character.

He added that Leigh, a father-of-one, has suffered mental health problems and, since the chase, has been diagnosed with epileptic-type seizures.

Recorder Hartley said Leigh's driving was so dangerous over such a prolonged period of time that he had no choice but to send him to prison.

"It gives me no pleasure - it gives me great pain, but there is no alternative," said the judge.

Leigh was jailed for nine months and banned from driving for three years and 14 weeks, after which he will have to take an extended test.

"I have seen in graphic detail the video footage from PC Berry's pursuit car. You engaged in what can only be described as the most dangerous driving one can imagine," Recorder Hartley told Leigh.

"You positively put people in danger. A disaster was round every single bend had you not been as lucky as you were."

Following the hearing, Recorder Hartley stated that he had been very impressed by PC Berry's professionalism during the pursuit.

"I would wish to commend his actions to his senior officers," said Recorder Hartley.