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2 April 2015, 06:11 | Updated: 2 April 2015, 06:13
A teenager who crashed a car into a Watford block of flats has escaped a jail term.
Rhys Hall had passed his driving test only two weeks earlier when he left a night club in the town centre, where he had been drinking, and drove off in the car with friends.
Hall, 19, who was not insured, was followed by a police car who recorded him travelling at 40 miles hour in a 30 mile zone, St Albans crown court heard today.
Prosecutor Ann Evans said he pulled up at traffic lights and when officers got out to talk to him, Hall drove off. He was pursued along Watford High Street, Beechen Grove and New Road, where he tried a three point turn. He clipped a police car after turning, before crashing into the side of a block of flats, causing £5,300 damage.
Hall was taken to hospital. When he was breath tested, he was below the alcohol limit for driving.
When questioned, Hall asked the police: "Are my friends OK? I was stupid. I have just passed my test. I paid for a crash course. I need my licence because I want to be an estate agent." He said he had a couple of drinks that night.
Hall, of Lakenheath, Southgate, North London, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving in the early hours of 12 August last year. He also admitted failing to stop and having no insurance.
Jennifer Oborne, defending, said Hall had 'panicked' when he saw the police and admitted his behaviour was reckless. She asked for credit for his early guilty plea.
Judge Andrew Bright QC told him: "I suspect you did not stop for the police because you thought you might be the wrong side of the alcohol limit. It was shameful and unforgivable behaviour that night. You are very lucky you are not going down the stairs to custody."
He passed a 4 month jail sentence suspended for 2 years with an 18 month supervision order with a condition that he attends a Thinking Skills Programme. He must also carry out 80 hours' unpaid work and attend 5 days' employment training.