A SPEEDING driver who performed a handbrake turn in a "moment of madness" , crashed into a wall, with four female passengers on board, a court heard.

Preston Crown Court was told David Hearn, 23, drove at speeds of up to 100mph over a 21-mile route from Grasmere to Grange-over-Sands on August 25 last year.

At one stage he even took both hands off the steering wheel to take a photo of the car's petrol gauge.

The court heard that after he pulled on the handbrake, the Volkswagen Polo spun a full 360 degrees before hitting a wall. One of his passengers was so scared by the experience that she described it the most frightening car journey of her life.

Hearn, of Low White Close, Barrow, was given 16 months jail by a judge. He had admitted offences of dangerous driving and driving without insurance.

At the time Hearn had been giving a lift to four female colleagues from the restaurant cafe where he had been working.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said the defendant crashed into a garden wall at Lindale.

The rear of the vehicle was found suspended in the air. Underneath was a demolished metal road sign to Lindale, still in its concrete foundation.

Hearn claimed to have been travelling between 30 and 35 mph on the road when he lost control on a bend.

However, statements from his passengers revealed he had been travelling at very excessive speeds during the journey, at times approaching 100mph.

He drove far too close to a fellow colleague's vehicle in front, overtaking her on Newby Bridge Road, having been sitting on the rear for some time. He forced the woman to take evasive action.

On the A590 he was travelling at around 80mph. A schoolgirl passenger saw Hearn pick up his mobile phone and take a picture of the petrol gauge, without either hand on the wheel.

While travelling at speed and approaching the Bell Hill junction he forcibly pulled the handbrake on, causing the car to spin a full 360 degress and hit the wall. All his passengers were shocked by what happened. He was not insured to carry work colleagues with him.

Brian Williams, defending, said Hearn appreciated that his driving had been dangerous and would have affected his passengers. The defendant himself described himself as a young reckless driver.

"It may well be it was brought about by a degree of immaturity and perhaps, a degree of showing off,” said Mr Williams.

"This was a moment of madness. He has now spent a month in custody and he has not found that easy.

Judge Stuart Baker told Hearn in passing sentence "You drove in a way which must have frightened your passengers and caused them to wonder whether they would come out of that car alive.

"The potential for appalling injury or death was created by your driving.

"It would be an affront to any sensible, responsible, law abiding person and road user to pass anything but an immediate prison sentence".

Hearn was also banned from driving for three years and must take an extended retest before getting behind the wheel in future.