A TEENAGE motorist drove a Ford Transit van on the wrong side of the road, ignored red lights and crossed a child’s play area, a court heard.

James Mitchell, 19, of Killinghall Street, Darlington, tried to shake off a tailing police car for half an hour before finally giving up.

During the pursuit, he went through three red lights in the North Road area of town, went off-road to cross a play area in Albert Hill before being forced to stop in a narrow street.

Jon Garside, prosecuting, told Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court, that Mitchell took his father’s van to pick up a friend before driving around the town for several hours on April 22.

He added that police tried to stop him at 4.26pm for not wearing a seatbelt but Mitchell sped off reaching speeds of 62mph in a 30mph zone - narrowly missing cars and pedestrians as he ignored traffic lights and drove on the wrong side of the road.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving, no insurance and no licence.

John Turner, mitigating, did not provide any defence at this stage and Mitchell will appear for sentencing at Teesside Crown Court on a date to be fixed.