A YOUNG soldier who left his car embedded in a fence after being pursued by police has been spared jail.

James Donnelly was more than twice over the legal alcohol limit when he jumped into the Volkswagen Passat following a row with his girlfriend.

A traffic officer on patrol in the Catterick area of North Yorkshire was alerted to the vehicle being driven dangerously and at high speed at about 4am on February 16 this year and suspected the driver was drunk.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Donnelly's Passat was followed into nearby Colburn and slowed enough at one stage for the officer to drive up behind. But it was then driven off again. It slowed once more and then accelerated away during the pursuit, which lasted a few minutes.

Donnelly, 22, of Prescot, Lancashire, took a 90 degree turn at a left hand bend, colliding with a kerb and seconds later ploughed it into a fence in Peppermint Drive, Colburn.

He then ran off but was chased and arrested. A breath test showed he had 83mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

James Fenny, mitigating, said it hadn't been Donnelly's intention to drink-drive and after getting into the car to clear his head and buy cigarettes, it was only then he realised he was over the limit.

Judge Howard Crowson gave him a 12 month community order and said he would be disqualified from driving for 18 months.