A dangerous driver tried hiding in a bush after ditching his car, a court heard.

Douglas McClure’s attempt to hide from the police proved unsuccessful – despite shoving one officer and fleeing over garden fences.

Appearing before Oxford Crown Court last week, 39-year-old McClure was spared an immediate prison sentence after Judge Ian Pringle KC heard the struggling alcoholic was at a ‘crossroads in his life’, having managed to get clean after a brief period in jail on remand.

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Imposing 14 months’ imprisonment suspended for a year-and-a-half, the judge said: “I’m going to give you the chance. Please take it, because it will be your last chance. You won’t get this treatment again.

“You must try and solve this problem not only to improve yourself but to improve the lives of those who love you.”

Earlier, prosecutor Cathy Olliver said the police officers’ attention had been drawn to McClure’s Audi A4, as it was ‘driving a bit fast’ in Banbury town centre in the early hours of April 11 last year.

He ‘made off’ when he realised the officers were tailing him, taking a quick left turn then failing to stop when the patrol car’s blue lights were illuminated.

He hit speeds of up to 50mph. His Audi went the wrong-way down a one-way street and drove over what was described as a ‘grass central reservation’ in his attempt to evade the officers.

At one point, McClure turned off his headlights as the chase sped around the Neithrop estate. Because it was so early, the pursuit only encountered one other vehicle – a van – on the roads.

Ms Olliver said McClure came to a ‘sudden stop’ and ran from his Audi.

He tried hiding in a bush. Police officers worked out where he was and ‘red dotted’ him with the laser of their Tasers.

As he emerged from the shrubbery, McClure gave one of the constables a shove and clambered fences to try and escape across gardens. The driver was ‘caught nearby’, Ms Olliver said.

McClure complained of ‘chest pains’ on his arrest. He was taken to hospital, where he also provided a urine sample that showed he was more than twice the drink-drive limit.

The defendant, of Withycombe Drive, Banbury, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to dangerous driving, drink driving, failing to stop, driving without a licence or insurance and obstructing a police officer.

Ms Olliver said he had 27 previous convictions for 53 offences. His first driving matter was in 2003, when he was banned from the roads for two years.

Mitigating, Robert Lindsey acknowledge his client had a ‘terrible record’. But he asked the judge to give McClure a final chance.

A family man with a partner of almost three decades, he had successfully battled a drug addiction in his teens but more recently had struggled with alcoholism.

A short period on remand at HMP Bullingdon earlier this month got him clean, the barrister said, and McClure had maintained his sobriety on release from custody. He had secured funding for a place at residential rehab, the court heard.

 As part of his suspended sentence order, McClure must complete an 18 month alcohol treatment requirement. He was banned from driving for four years and must pass an extended retest.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward