Houghton “Daredevil” avoids jail after speeding at 138mph up the Durham Road on a stolen bike

A Houghton “Daredevil” filmed himself reaching “ridiculous” speeds of up to 138mph on a stolen bike up the Durham Road.

Craig Place repeatedly recorded himself on a helmet camera riding at far in excess of the speed limit during a series of clips showing what a judge described as “hellraising” behaviour.

The offences came to light when police examined Place’s phone last August in relation to something else which was not proceeded with. They found videos showing him riding the motorbike, which had been stolen in 2019, dangerously on five occasions.

In relation to one clip, on October 6 on the A690 towards Houghton-le-Spring. prosecutor Michael Bunch told Newcastle Crown Court: “Most of that recording shows the speedometer as he travelled. Initially he was doing just over 70mph but during the clip, which lasts around a minute, the bike reached a maximum of 138mph. As he approached Houghton-le-Spring the vehicle takes a slip road and is still doing more than 100mph.”

Place pleaded guilty to dangerous driving in relation to that and also asked for four other similar incidents to be taken into account. The first one involved him weaving in and out of traffic at high speed in Hetton-le-Hole on September 29.

Three other clips, also from October 6, showed him doing 80mph in a 30 zone in Hetton-le-Hole, 120mph in a 50 zone in Houghton-le-Spring and 80mph in a 30 zone in Fencehouses.

The court heard police only charged him with one offence of dangerous driving because he agreed to go on a “divert programme” to “stop him reoffending via drug and alcohol support and to help him find work”.

Place, 30, of Queen Elizabeth Drive, Houghton-le-Spring, has 19 previous convictions, including for two counts of driving without due care and attention in 2015 and two of driving while disqualified in 2019, for which he got a suspended prison sentence.

In relation to the latest offending, he admitted dangerous driving, handling stolen goods and driving with no licence and insurance. He was sentenced to eight months suspended for two years with 100 hours unpaid work. He was banned from driving for two years and must pay £100 costs.

Recorder James Wood KC said: “This appears to be deliberate, boastful offending over a period of time with reckless abandon to people in the community. This happened on five occasions.”

The judge told Place: “Your speed went up to a highly dangerous – both to yourself and others – 138mph. This involved enormous speed, enormous risk to the public and happened on multiple occasions.

“There comes a time when this kind of hellraising has to come to an end. You are lucky – if you hit someone who walked out in front of you at 138mph the kind of sentence you would have received would have been eight years in prison, if not more.”

Katie Spence, defending, said it was “absolutely ridiculous” that he had been impressed by the speeds he had reached but added: “He is incredibly sorry for his behaviour. This has been an absolutely huge wake-up call.”