A MAN who sparked a 70mph police chase along the busy Cowley Road and into the city centre has been spared jail.

Oxford Crown Court heard yesterday how James Bowers, of Botley Road in Southampton, was out driving a borrowed van in Oxford when it happened on July 9.

Bowers was not insured to be driving the white Peugeot van when officer spotted him driving along the Cowley Road about 11.20pm.

The court heard how he 'panicked' and fled after police attempted to pull him over and instead sparked a police chase where he reached speeds up to 70mph from East Oxford, across Magdalen Bridge and into the city centre.

Prosecutor Jane Brady told the court how police officers lost the speeding driver, who also jumped a red light, and deployed colleagues to help track him down.

ALSO READ: MURDER TRIAL: Men 'hunted' their victim for revenge, court hears

The van was found parked up close to the city centre and later that night two men were spotted approaching the van in shorts and no tops.

Realising they had been spotted by police the pair made a run for it on foot, but Bowers, alongside his co-defendant, was caught and arrested soon after.

The 29-year-old, who stays in Botley, Oxford, with his partner on a regular basis pleaded guilty and was brought before judge Nigel Daly to be sentenced yesterday for one charge of dangerous driving, another for failing to stop when requested by a police officer, and driving without correct insurance.

Judge Daly said: "Whatever possessed you to drive like this I don't know. Driving at these speeds, along these roads in Oxford is extremely dangerous."

ALSO READ: Bomb disposal team dispatched to village

Bowers was sentenced to a community order for 18 months which includes an order to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.

He was also ordered to take part in 15 days worth of rehabilitation activity.

He was disqualified from driving for two years.