A DANGEROUS driver has avoided an immediate prison sentence after leading police on a high-speed chase around Torfaen.

Andrew Spencer drove in excess of 80mph at times during the pursuit, failing to slow down even after a police stinger device had burst two of his tyres.

The hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday was told police spotted Spencer, 24, driving "in an erratic manner" on the A4043 in Pontypool, at around 1.45am on November 18 last year.

The police constable then followed the defendant, who increased the speed in the BMW 3 series car he was driving.

Jac Brown, prosecuting, said Spencer was clocked travelling through a residential area in excess of 50mph. At other points during the chase, he drove above 80mph in a 40mph zone and entered a 30mph zone in Blaenavon at 70mph.

He then took the B4246 towards Varteg, speeding at 90mph while still being pursued by the police. Officers deployed a stinger, puncturing two of the BMW's tyres, but Spencer continued driving towards Pontypool town centre at 80mph.

He drove through a red light, Mr Brown said, and when a police car finally caught up to him, Spencer ran from the BMW, jumping over the bonnet of the police vehicle. Officers gave chase, catching the defendant, who told them: "I don't know what I was thinking."

At a previous court appearance, Spencer admitted dangerous driving, driving without a licence, driving without insurance and failing to stop. 

The sentencing hearing at Cardiff today heard the defendant has six previous convictions for 11 offences, including a "lengthy antecedent record for motoring offences".

Stuart John, defending, said his client "wholeheartedly accepts" his driving was "extremely dangerous" and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He said Spencer had received "devastating" news hours before the incident that had led to him making the "very foolish decision" to commit the offences.

The defendant "regretted instantly" his behaviour once his vehicle had been brought to a stop, Mr John added, and since the offences Spencer's behaviour has been "nothing short of exemplary".

The judge, Nicola Saffman, noted the defendant's early guilty pleas but said he had been "fully aware" he had no insurance or licence.

She handed Spencer, of Fowler Street, Pontypool, a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for one year. He has also been disqualified from driving for 30 months.

The defendant must also complete 40 days of rehabilitation activities and 150 hours of unpaid work, which the judge said means Spencer will "give something back to the community you put at risk with your dangerous driving".