A BURY business owner led police officers on a high speed car chase through the town after splitting with his wife, a court heard.

Thomas Holmes, 32, was twice the legal drink drive limit when he got behind the wheel of his Audi alongside a passenger in May this year.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Megan Tollit, prosecuting, described how officers spotted the black Audi A5 on Bolton Street in Bury at around 5.20pm on May 31.

It was travelling at speed at went through a red light and on to Peel Way with the officers continuing a pursuit on to Bell Lane.

"After crossing the junction the Audi entered onto the opposite side of of the carriageway, clipped a member of the public's vehicle and then accelerated hard before turning right on to Walsh Lane," said Ms Tollit. "The Audi began to skid and almost collided with the curb before turning sharply."

The officer was able to stop his vehicle behind the Audi and he shouted at Holmes to turn the engine off and get out but the driver sped off onto Heywood Street on the wrong side of the road causing other vehicles to swerve.

Another red light was crossed with the Audi reaching speeds of over 60mph on Radcliffe New Road before one of its tyres began to deflate.

"The defendant drove on until he reached the Hagside level crossing on Hinds Lane," said Ms Tollit. "The vehicle stopped in the middle of the road and the defendant exited and ran across the tracks."

Officers continued the chase on foot and Holmes was detained in a bush a short distance along the towpath.

Holmes, of Chesham Fold, Bury, later provided a reading of 72 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.

He told officers: "I get p***ed on one pint so I don't know why I drove."

Ms Tollit added Holmes had five previous convictions but none for driving offences.

Ellen Shaw, defending, said her client, who pleaded guilty to drink driving and dangerous driving, had separated from his wife in the days leading up to the incident.

"He is somebody who doesn't normally drink," said Ms Shaw. "He runs a food business which includes healthy food preparation and he is somebody who engages in an active lifestyle so he is not frequently found down the pub sinking a number of pints before driving home."

Ms Shaw said the father of two was now back with his wife who was expecting a child.

She added that Holmes employed three people and it was a concern that the business would fold if he was jailed.

Passing sentence, Recorder Imran Shafi, said: "Plainly if I send you to prison there is a chance your business will not survive without you.

"That is of your own making and I have no sympathy however it is not the fault of the three people who work for you particularly in these difficult times when we know the hospitality industry is under the cosh."

Holmes was handed a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and will have to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months.

"You have just escaped by the skin of your teeth," added Mr Shafi.