A BANNED driver from Whitminster led police on a 10 mile car chase along unlit country roads, barely dropping below 70 mph before damaging a police car.

Ashley Batchelor, 28, of Kidnams Walk was described as "a complete menace and danger on the road" as he was jailed for 18 months last week.

Batchelor was told by Judge Jamie Tabor QC that his driving from Bredon to Hartpury had put himself and other road users at risk and had to lock him up to protect the public from him for as long as possible.

Batchelor pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court to driving dangerously and while disqualified between Tewkesbury Road, Bredon, Worcestershire and Corsend Road, Hartpury, on July 9.

He also admitted damaging a police car during the chase.

The court heard he had an "appalling record" having made 49 previous court appearances for a total of 142 offences.

Prosecutor Janine Wood said that at about 11pm on July 9 a policeman in an unmarked car at Bredon saw a Subaru Forester car go by and suspected there was criminal activity going on.

He gave chase and illuminated his blue flashing lights.

The Subaru failed to stop and was then chased for approximately ten miles along unlit country roads, said Ms Wood.

"The Subaru was speeding along, crossing white lines, driving on the wrong side of the road on blind bends when he wouldn't know who was on the other side and his speed was in excess of the limit, rarely dropping below 70mph," she said.

"At one point the officer accelerated past the Subaru and began to drop back to close the gap. But the Subaru accelerated and there was some slight damage to the front nearside wheel arch and front bumper of the Subaru.

"The chase came to an end when the defendant misjudged the width of Corsend road.

"Batchelor was at the time disqualified from driving. He refused to be interviewed after his arrest. But he did say that he had been driving under duress because he had been threatened by others."

Richard Gordon, defending, said "There is very little I can say on his behalf. Mercifully there were no other cars on the roads that night.

"He does say he was driving under pressure from those in the vehicle. But he accepts the decision to drive was his and he was very stupid. He wishes he had not done so."

Jailing Batchelor for 18 months, Judge Tabor told him: "You are a complete menace and you are a danger on the road. More importantly, you are a danger to other road users.

"You don't care. You don't appear to have ever cared. You certainly don't obey the law and you have no intention, as far as I can see, of obeying the law. All I can do is protect the public from your driving for as long as I can and that's what I shall do."

He banned Batchelor from driving for two years.

"If you come before me again for driving while disqualified I shall give you the maximum sentence whether you plead guilty or not," warned the judge.