Ryhope man blasted his Mercedes at 100mph through Hendon because he thought “gang was chasing him” when it was actually police

A Ryhope man claims he sped at over 100mph through Hendon as he thought an unmarked police car that was chasing him contained gang members.

Darren Welsh refused to pull over for officers in Hendon and sparked a 13-minute pursuit where he drove at dangerously high speeds, failed to give way, went through red lights and travelled on the wrong side of the road.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Welsh went through two residential estates during the fast-paced chase, where he travelled at speeds of over 90 and 100mph at times and was finally forced to brake when he reached a cul-de-sac.

Welsh, who was driving back from a fishing trip, claims he “panicked” and tried to get away from the dark car last September because he thought it was being driven by “organised offenders” who had attacked him before.

Prosecutor Daisy Wrigley played dash cam video footage from the police car during the hearing and told the court: “The speeds at this point, you will see, are in excess of 100mph.”

Miss Wrigley added: “This is a deliberate decision to ignore the rules of the road and disregard the danger to others. It was a deliberate and persistent course of dangerous driving.”

Welsh, 47, of Marlville West, Sunderland, admitted dangerous driving.

Sophie Allinson-Howells, defending, said Welsh was fully insured to drive his car, had not had any drink or drugs and was legally on the road.

Miss Allinson-Howells added: “He was returning from some night fishing.

“When driving back an unmarked police vehicle began to follow him.

“The defendant noticed he as being followed by a dark coloured vehicle but couldn’t see who was in the vehicle and began to panic.”

Miss Allinson-Howells said Welsh had been the victim of a violent attack in 2021, which he did not pursue through the courts but feared it could be the same “organised offenders” who were chasing him, which left him “pre-occupied and frightened” and determined to get away.

The court heard Welsh suffered a bad ankle injury when he got out of his vehicle and has other health problems.

Mr Recorder James Wood KC said Welsh’s driving was “outrageous” and told him: “The only harm caused was to you.”

Recorder Wood sentenced him to 12 months, suspended for two years, with mental health treatment requirements, a two year ban with extended test requirement and £340 costs.