A THIEF who stole a car from a school and then drove it through red lights before crashing it has been jailed for 10 months.

Leslie Simpson took the Mitsubishi Shogun worth £20,000 and, when police saw him driving in Radcliffe, he sped off, mounting kerbs and eventually smashing into another vehicle in Pilsworth.

The 36-year-old, of Daventry Road, Rochdale, ran off towards a grass verge before police caught him.

At Bolton Crown Court on Friday, Judge Peter Davies said Simpson was reckless for driving at 40mph in 30mph zones during the rush hour.

He said: “You were driving a large vehicle dangerously through Radcliffe and Bury in a built-up residential area at a busy time of day. The danger you posed to pedestrians, including children, was signific-ant.”

The court heard Simpson had a string of offences dating back to 1998, including dangerous driving and driving while disqualified.

Last October he was banned from driving for two years but on April 7, Simpson stole the Shogun belonging to Gwyn Davies, who was doing repair work at Lowton Junior School, at 3pm.

Mr Davies saw a Ford Transit Van driving off followed by his own vehicle and alerted police.

At 5.50pm, police saw the Shogun on Outwood Road and followed it at speed on to Stand Lane, Radcliffe.

Simpson stopped in Thorpe Avenue, but drove off when police tried to speak to him. Other officers tracked Simpson to Pilsworth and saw him mount the kerb. The Shogun then crashed into a Peugeot 206.

Simpson was arrested later.

The court heard Simpson was “persistent-ly and perennially in trouble” with a “very bad driving record”.

He had admitted dangerous driving and driving while disqualif-ied and was banned from driving for three years.

Judge Davies told him: “There really is no mitigation, other than that you pleaded guilty.”