TWO friends have been banned from driving after a race along a busy North-East road finished up in a ditch.

John Henry Jefferson and Chad Bryan, both 25, were spotted driving in convoy along the A177, in Sedgefield, Country Durham, close behind another motorist on April 14 last year.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court today (February 21) heard how the pair, who were both found guilty of dangerous driving during a trial last month, cut in sharply ahead of the other motorist after overtaking him. Bryan was spotted waving at the driver as he drove by.

The manoeuvre resulted in Jefferson, who was driving a white Peugeot 106, clipping the kerb and both he and Bryan, who was behind the wheel of a Seat Ibiza, ended up in a ditch at the side of the road.

Jefferson, of Peel Avenue, Trimdon Grange, suffered a broken collar bone but Bryan, of Bridge View, Fishburn, escaped unhurt.

Hari Jandoo, prosecuting, said another motorist travelling in the opposite direction had been forced to swerve to prevent a head-on collision.

Jefferson was handed a 12 month supervision order, ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay £500 in costs. Bryan was given a four month curfew between 8pm and 6am, disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay £100 in costs.

Both were told they must take an extended driving test before getting back behind the wheel of a vehicle.

“There was a complete disregard for the safety of others,” said Mr Jandoo. “There was an element of showing off and racing.

Addressing magistrates, he added: “You may take the view that this was some sort of aggressive driving and driving to close behind the vehicle.”

Vivian Waugh, representing Jefferson, said: “Whilst he is clearly in a position that he could have dealt with matters better on that day, he effectively still pleads not guilty.

“I would ask you to take on board in the pre-sentence report he appears to be starting to show remorse.

“He has very positive character references about how positive he is and how he normally keeps out of trouble.

Bryan, who represented himself, said: “I was actually driving at my own pace. I didn’t wave at him and it was clear when I overtook. The driver swerved so I had to move to avoid a collision.”

More Sedgefield News