A STOLEN car driver was caught by police because the vehicle was fitted with a tracking device.

Declan O’Reilly tried to flee officers after they spotted him driving the £30,000 Mercedes C Class in Farnworth.

O’Reilly, aged 23, led them on a half mile pursuit through busy town centre traffic before abandoning the car and his two passengers and was arrested a short time later.

At Bolton Crown Court O’Reilly, of Stand Lane, Radcliffe, was jailed for 14 months after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking and breaching previous court orders.

Phillip Barnes, prosecuting, told how the black Mercedes C Class had been stolen in a burglary in Timperley between December 18 and 20 last year. The keys had been taken by the thieves from the house while the owners were away.

But, on December 22 Tracker alerted police that the vehicle was in Farnworth and, at 5.40pm officers spotted it, bearing false number plates, in Crompton Street.

O’Reilly, who has a lengthy criminal record, tried to escape, driving along Grundy Street, Mabel’s Brow and onto Old Hall Street where police had laid a stinger in the carriageway to damage the tyres.

Despite this O’Reilly continued driving for two minutes at up to 50mph on 30mph roads, through a red light, through the town centre before slewing the car across the road in Lord Street.

“The defendant got out and ran off leaving his passengers in the car,” said Mr Barnes.

O’Reilly hid in woodland and tried to disguise himself by discarding his coat and hat but was arrested.

Michael Lea, defending, stressed: “The defendant’s [criminal] record isn’t to his credit but this will be his first offence involving dangerous driving.”

Sentencing O’Reilly and banning him from driving for 18 months Judge Elliot Knopf told him: “You were clearly oblivious to the interests of anyone else. Your main intention was to try and escape from the attentions of the police.”