A NUCLEAR worker who led police on an 80mph chase while more than twice the drink-drive limit was told he had put other road users at ‘severe risk of death’.

Christopher McCulloch, 39, was spared jail at Workington Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after admitting charges of drink-driving, dangerous driving and failing to stop for a constable.  

Outlining the case, prosecutor Pamela Fee said police had been alerted to a driver who was under the influence and was making his way towards the Hensingham area at around midnight on January 2.

Officers located themselves on a stretch of road as McCulloch made his way along the A595. A Ford Focus passed Westlakes Science Park at high speed.

Police followed the vehicle and reached speeds of 80mph to catch up with the driver. The vehicle continued through the traffic lights at Mirehouse Road, contravening a red light.

Officers activated their blue lights and the vehicle continued at 80mph. The driver took the second exit at the West Cumberland Hospital roundabout and exited on to Hensingham Main Street.

Another officer was waiting at Hensingham with a stinger device which was successful. The vehicle continued at speeds of 80mph and took the first exit at the roundabout towards Ribton Moorside before the vehicle came to a stop.

A taser was used on McCulloch and he was placed on the floor. He was then arrested. A sample of breath was taken which showed he had 92mcg of alcohol per litre of breah. The legal limit is 35mcg.

McCulloch was then taken to custody in Workington and made comments while under caution, ‘As soon as I saw him at the bus stop, I put my foot down. I only did it to get chased.’

A statement from one of the officers involved in the incident said the weather conditions had been very poor and McCulloch could have easily caused serious injury or death of another person using the road.

McCulloch was interviewed by police and said he had been driving to his partner’s parents’ home address. He admitted he was driving over the speed limit and confirmed he had been drinking pints of lager.

He sad when he got to the Mirehouse junction, he had put his foot down in a ‘moment of madness’.

Mike Pope, defending, said: “It was a quiet time of night. There was nobody out. The risk to pedestrians and other motorists were minimised by the fact it was incredibly quiet.

“He was in a state when he was arrested. He has explained his actions the best he can.

“He is in employment in Sellafield as a process operator. He goes through a procedure of drug and alcohol testing each week, which is going well because he hasn’t been suspended from work.”

A probation officer said McCulloch had served in the army for two years and had then worked in restaurants as a chef.

He began misusing alcohol ‘to relax’ after ‘very stressful’ 15-hour days. He had been working at Sellafield for five years.

The court heard that prior to the offence, McCulloch had been out with friends and had ‘no real idea’ why he had decided to drive.

Passing sentence, Keith Southward, chair of the magistrates’ panel, said: "Members of the public have been extremely lucky. It was a quiet time but some people still have to travel in those early hours and you put them at severe risk of death.”

McCulloch, of Grove Road, Egremont, was handed a 24-week jail term, suspended for two years.

He was banned from driving for two years and must complete an extended re-test if he wishes to drive again.

The defendant was also given a two-year community order with 200 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £154 victim surcharge.