Only good fortune prevented a dangerous driver from crashing into a horse-drawn funeral carriage in Blackbird Leys.

Mechanic Jason Dewsbury was behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Zafira last month when he took off from a police car on the Eastern Bypass.

A dashcam in the officer’s patrol car caught the moment 29-year-old Dewsbury’s car narrowly avoided hitting a funeral cortege led by a horse-drawn carriage.

Jailing him for 14 months, Judge Nigel Daly told the Headington man: “Can you imagine what could have happened if those horses had got out of control?

“It would have been utter chaos.”

Lee Jackson, 30, of funeral directors’ Jackson & Browning was on the carriage en-route to a Blackbird Leys’ woman’s funeral at Iffley Church when it was passed at around 30mph by Dewsbury’s smoke-belching people carrier.

He told the Oxford Mail: “I didn’t know whether to jump off the hearse or not. The horses were fine; they’re trained animals and they’re more worried about a carrier bag than a vehicle.

“When we got to the church I said to my colleagues ‘what was that all about’? My hearse driver said: ‘Lee, you don’t know how close it was.’”

In almost a decade in the business, he had never seen anything like it. “We get the odd car that overtakes us, but they overtake us quite slowly,” Mr Jackson said.

Dewsbury attracted the attention of the police on the Eastern Bypass at around 11am on September 22 as his Vauxhall Zafira was belching thick black smoke.

Oxford Mail: Jason Dewsbury's mugshot Picture: Thames Valley PoliceJason Dewsbury's mugshot Picture: Thames Valley Police (Image: Thames Valley Police)

On Tuesday (October 17), Oxford Crown Court was told that the 29-year-old was trying to get the Vauxhall up to speed to diagnose the cause of the smoke, despite the fact he was disqualified from driving and had a suspended prison sentence hanging over his head.

When the police officer tailing him turned on his car’s blue lights and sirens, the mechanic sped away.

Footage from the police car’s dash cam showed the Vauxhall undertaking other cars on the bypass, going through red lights and reaching speeds of more than 80mph in the 50 zone.

He turned off the dual carriageway at Sandy Lane before doing double the 20mph speed limit on roads in Blackbird Leys – with the car still billowing smoke.

The chase slowed down slightly when it came face-to-face with a funeral cortege, led by a horse-drawn carriage, on Blackbird Leys Road.

Dewsbury only stopped when he reached the row of shops opposite the Church of the Holy Family. Ditching the car, he fled on foot but was swiftly tracked down.

The defendant, of Trinity Road, Headington Quarry, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance.

He admitted being in breach of a suspended 16 week prison sentence imposed earlier this year for disqualified driving, one of half a dozen convictions on his record for dangerous driving or disqualified driving.

Oxford Mail: The horse drawn carriage and hearse on Blackbird Leys Road Picture: CPSThe horse drawn carriage and hearse on Blackbird Leys Road Picture: CPS (Image: CPS)

Judge Daly jailed the dad-of-four for 14 months and banned him from the roads for two years and seven months.

“What is concerning is that you simply don’t seem either to learn from what happens when you commit offences or, alternatively, you just choose to ignore order of the court once you are disqualified from driving,” the judge said.

He added it was not surprising that the police officer had followed Dewsbury’s Vauxhall, given how much smoke was coming from it.

“It could be tracked from space,” Judge Daly said. “It was inevitable when you went on the open road you would attract the attention of the police.

 Mitigating, George Joseph said his client was a family man who worked two jobs as a binman and mechanic to support his pregnant partner and four children.

“He doesn’t seek to mitigation his actions whatsoever. He thinks it was a stupid and foolish thing to get behind the wheel of the car,” his barrister accepted.

Dewsbury will have to pass an extended retest if he wants to get back behind the wheel again.