A FORMER motorcycle race winner who had competed on the Isle of Man TT course has been jailed following a 90mph police pursuit in Northwich.

Connor Behan, 27, of Townfield Court, Barnton, Northwich, said he "panicked" when he saw police blue lights flashing and heard sirens behind the Audi he was driving on December 17, 2018.

Prosecuting, Eve Johnson told Chester Magistrates Court on Friday, January 4 that Behan drove dangerously when overtaking vehicles, went through a red light underneath a railway bridge, before ultimately hitting a car, a tree and finally crashing into a resident's driveway wall in Hodge Lane, Weaverham, with such force the airbags in his car went off.

Behan – who raced motorcycles on roads and race tracks in the UK and Ireland between 2004 and 2015, becoming Irish road race super twins champion in 2014 – pleaded guilty to driving dangerously, drink-driving and failing to stop when told to by police.

He was also found in possession of cocaine and a knuckle duster when stopped.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders sentenced Behan to 20 weeks in jail and banned him from driving for two years and 10 weeks.

The court heard police were driving in Northwich when they saw the car driven by Behan dangerously overtaking two vehicles, so they pursued him.

Behan had put his indicators on to show he was going to stop, but as officers arrived, he pulled away.

At one point Behan was going at 90mph – all the time the police sirens were going, leaving no doubt they were trying to stop him.

After the crash, Behan was arrested and he admitted he had had a couple of drinks.

He said: "I saw the [police] lights, I panicked, I was stupid."

In custody, a search was carried out and a bag of white powder was found, which turned out to be cocaine. Behan claimed the drug was for his use, given to him at a birthday party.

A breath test reading showed Behan had 48 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, compared to the legal limit of 35.

He had a previous drug conviction from March 2017 when he was handed a three-year jail term for drug supply in Spain, where he was released after one year.

A report from probation heard Behan was fully co-operative. On the night, he had been in a pub and had drunk about two and a half pints of lager.

He believed he was doing 70mph but realised he should have stopped and was remorseful.

The knuckle duster he had was bought off a website several months ago and had been left in the car when moving things to and from houses, and was just an ornament and would not be used as a weapon. He forgot the cocaine was in his wallet.

He accepted he was out of order, stupid and it was something he regrets.

He lives with his partner and two young children and is the sole provider for the family. He had been a self-employed driver but lost that job, but hoped to start a new job as a motorcycle mechanic imminently.

The probation report added he became upset at the prospect of returning to custody.

Defending, James Bagby asked for Behan to be punished in the community rather than through a custodial sentence.

He said it was a spur of the moment situation – he panicked when he saw the police lights activated and it spiralled out of control after.

His father had passed away and since then Behan had been under a great deal of stress.

Judge Sanders, sentencing Behan, said: "I would give you full credit for your guilty plea and you co-operated with police.

"This was a prolonged period of bad driving with a police pursuit and multiple accidents.

"You are a man who has ridden professionally; it should have been patently obvious [to stop] and not to drive in this appalling way. It's an aggravating factor that you were over the limit."

For the dangerous driving, Behan was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison. For possession of the knuckle duster he received an eight-week concurrent jail term and for cocaine possession and drink-driving he received four weeks in prison each, again to be served concurrently. There was no separate penalty for failing to stop.

The cocaine was to be forfeited and destroyed.

The driving ban was to last two years and 10 weeks and Behan must take an extended retest when the ban expires.

He must also pay a £115 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.