AN Ellesmere Port man banned from driving went through a red light with a police vehicle right behind him.

Anthony Woodward, 29, of Viva Way, had got behind the wheel as he did not want to miss his appointment with probation as part of an existing community order, Chester Magistrates Court heard on Friday, December 6.

Woodward pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and driving his car through a red light.

Magistrates held back on immediate custody but placed Woodward on a suspended sentence and upped his driving ban to four years.

Prosecuting, Alison Warburton said it was at 9am on Sunday, November 3 when a police bike pulled up at a junction on Rossmore Road East, with a BMW in front. The BMW went through the red light and continued at "high speed".

After giving chase, the BMW - driven by Woodward - was found in a car park, with Woodward found nearby.

Woodward accepted he had been driving and was a disqualified driver. He said he was running late for the probation services.

He had 29 previous convictions for 50 offences, and had been banned from driving on October 25 - less than two weeks before the offence was committed.

Defending, Howard Jones said he had known Woodward for a number of years, knowing him to be "someone who on many occasions acts rather foolishly".

One of his previous convictions had involved Woodward going on top of a wagon while it was in motion, but what was initially thought to be "hijinks" outside a pub became more serious when the HGV didn't stop and Woodward found himself travelling along the M53.

"It's that sort of foolish behaviour that brings him back before the court," Mr Jones explained.

For this latest offence, Woodward had been staying at his partner's address and she was to take him to the probation appointment for unpaid work as part of his community order.

However, an incident with their three-year-old child, who had a viral infection at the time, stopped them as they were leaving the house.

"Rather than be late," Mr Jones explained, "He stupidly decided to drive himself in the car."

Woodward did not see the police bike behind him when he ran the red light, and accepted the offences when questioned later.

A probation report said Woodward had completed 40 out of the 80 hours of unpaid work and was attending appointments as required.

Magistrates handed Woodward an 18-week prison term, suspended for two years.

Chair of magistrates Andrew Pope said: "What seriously annoys me as one of the chair of magistrates is when you drive a motor vehicle, you commit a far more serious offence while disqualified.

"If you commit another offence [in the next two years], my money would be on you going inside."

Woodward must complete an extra 80 hours unpaid work, the existing three-year driving ban was reset to four years from December 6, 2019, and he must pay a £122 victim surcharge and £85 in court costs.