A drunk driver in handcuffs has been jailed for stealing a police car and crashing it into oncoming traffic.

Dominic O'Neill was pulled over by two officers after he was seen driving erratically in his Vauxhall Zafira at 1pm on 21 October in Leicester town centre.

The 38-year-old was given a breath test and blew 65mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, almost twice the 35mcg limit.

Officers handcuffed the father-of-seven and put him in the back of their police car, before returning to O'Neill's car to deal with his two passengers.

But while the officers were distracted O'Neill clambered into the front seat of the police car, locked the doors and drove off, reported The Leicester Mercury.

One officer shattered a side window in an attempt to stop O'Neill, while his colleague suffered a wrist injury after being dragged along the road while holding onto the door handle.

A handcuffed O'Neill sped down a couple of main roads, but turned into one street on the wrong side of the road, careered across a traffic island, clipped the kerb and collided with a stationary BMW and Volkswagen. The drivers of both of these cars suffered whiplash.

O'Neill managed to run off, but was re-arrested short distance from the crash.

The Leicester man was jailed for a total of 16 months after admitting a string of motoring offences at Leicester Crown Court on Wednesday (22 November).

Appalling record

O'Neill appeared court via video link because he was on remand from an earlier hearing where he admitted driving with excess alcohol, driving with no insurance, driving while disqualified and aggravated vehicle taking.

The court heard O'Neill told police after the collision: "I didn't mean to crash the car. It's hard driving in handcuffs. It's the other officer's fault for leaving the keys in the car."

Defending Michelle Harding said: "The best mitigation that can be put forward is his early guilty plea. I can say he was in the back of the police car and panicked. He knew he would be arrested for driving while disqualified and would be over the limit."

But Recorder Martin Hurst replied: "He wasn't going to get very far with handcuffs on, was he?"

The court heard that O'Neill has previously been convicted of driving while disqualified six times, driving with no insurance five times, driving with excess alcohol three times and dangerous driving once.

Hurst told the defendant: "You have an appalling record for driving. You were up to your old ways on 21 October.

"You were stopped and breathalysed and that is where it should have ended, but you thought you were being clever. I do not accept you panicked.

"You drove off wearing handcuffs doubtless thinking it was an amusing story to tell your friends.

"It is not an amusing story to tell your seven children. What kind of an example are you setting them?"

"Not a very good one," O'Neill replied.

In a statement, Leicestershire Police said it had carried out "an internal investigation" after the incident in which the "necessary officers have received advice".