Dramatic dash-cam footage captured the latter stages of the chase of a stolen quad bike which became increasingly engulfed in flames as the rider tried to evade a pursuing police vehicle.

Sparks and then flames flew from under the chassis of the £9,000-worth Yamaha Kodiak 700 machine as it headed into Darlington, having been taken from a farm building in Teesdale, County Durham, shortly after midnight on October 11, 2022.

Durham Crown Court heard that an elderly occupant was awoken by a movement across the gravelled area outside the farmhouse, in Eggleston, at about midnight.

He looked out to see suspicious activity, with the quad bike on the opposite side of a perimeter wall.

The Northern Farmer: Steven Johnstone, left, jailed at Durham Crown Court for fasrm burglary in which he took a quad

Neil Jones, prosecuting, said the resident heard the quad bike engine being started, causing his dogs to start barking, while he also saw a red Vauxhall Astra driving slowly outside with no lights illuminated.

The quad bike, being driven by Steven Johnstone, then drove off on the road towards Barnard Castle, followed by the Astra.

Mr Jones said the witness rang police at 12.08am and then went down to his garage, where the quad bike is usually stored, to see it was missing, along with a chainsaw and snood.

The window of the garage had been completely removed, but unbroken, enabling the trespassers to gain access.

Mr Jones said following the call to the police, officers on mobile patrol came across the Astra and the quad bike both stationary in the middle of the A67, between Gainford and Piercebridge.

Two men were on the quad bike, but one fled when he saw the police vehicles, while the other accelerated away.

Mr Jones said police then pursued the quad bike, as sparks were seen coming from under the chassis.

The quad bike was driven the wrong way around a roundabout, drove on the wrong side of the carriageway, while also swerving around corners in a dangerous fashion, having reached speeds of between 60 and 70-mph on 20 to 50-limit roads.

Mr Jones said by that stage the fire had taken hold under the quad chassis, illuminating properties on either side of the street as it went past the A67 Parkside Bridge.

The quad turned onto a grass lane, “very much in flames”, heading through woodland, setting alight to undergrowth, before Johnstone brought it to a stop at the River Skerne, in South Park.

He abandoned the by now blazing quad and was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and burglary.

Back at the Astra, Johnstone’s accomplices, Metin Ucurcan and Jack Smith, were also arrested for their roles in the farm garage burglary.

Ucarcan, 31, of Hewitson Road, Darlington, received a total 37-month sentence at Teesside Crown Court in June, after admitting not only the Eggleston farm burglary, but also a further break-in at a property in Burnet Drive, Darlington, on October 31 last year, plus an attempted burglary.

Johnstone, 41, then living in Eldon Street, Darlington, but recently of Busfield Street, Bradford, and 28-year-old Smith, of Melsonby Crescent, Darlington, both denied burglary, but changed pleas to guilty on the day of their scheduled trial in August.

At an earlier stage in proceedings, Johnstone also admitted dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking and driving without insurance.

The court heard he has 30 past convictions for 57 previous offences, including theft and other burglary offenses, plus various motoring matters.

Shaun Dryden, for Johnstone, conceded that his record “does not make attractive reading”, but he said the garage broken into, to steal the quad bike, was unattached and there was no intention to enter the farmhouse.

Mr Dryden added that much of his client’s offending was down to his “excess alcohol consumption”, for which he has undergone a previous alcohol treatment requirement.

He added that Johnstone, now living in Bradford, had not tried to shirk his requirements and travelled to Durham by train on the morning of the sentencing hearing.

Chris Baker, for Smith, said he worked as a doorman and has very little previous criminal history.

Judge James Adkin described the farm burglary as, “highly organised”, with the gang, “clearly targeting” the building housing the quad bike.

He said the ensuing seven-minute chase was “prolonged and persistent”, featuring highly dangerous driving by Johnstone until he abandoned the damaged quad bike, for which the owner had no insurance.

Johnstone was given a 30-month prison sentence, of which he will serve half before release on licence, while he will remain disqualified from driving for a further 12 months, as part of an overall 27-month ban from the roads.

Judge Adkin said given Smith's much lesser previous criminal history it allowed him to suspend his 21-month prison sentence for two years, during which he must complete 200 hours’ unpaid work and undergo 20 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service.