A DANGEROUS getaway driver who stole a high powered car may never drive again after he was bitten by a police dog following a high speed chase.

John Shorthouse, who appeared in court on crutches because of the injury, was bitten on the leg after he was boxed in by police dog handlers and a dog set on him following a high speed chase in an Audi RS4.

The 21-year-old admitted stealing two cars, aggravating vehicle taking, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance when he appeared at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday.

Shorthouse already had a dangerous driving conviction on his record (18 weeks suspended for 12 months) from February last year at the time of the offences.

He stole the Audi worth £38,000 from Warwick Parkway railway station between November 24 and November 26 last year.

The owner returned to find the car gone, broken glass on the ground and a baby seat, which had been inside the Audi, placed on the bonnet of another car.

Shorthouse also stole a Ford Focus RS a few days later on November 29.

The car's owner had bought the Focus, worth £17,500, from a garage at Wychbold on the A38 near Droitwich before it was stolen from a garage in Upton Warren where it was parked overnight.

Timothy Sapwell, prosecuting, said CCTV showed the Audi driven by Shorthouse pull up at the garage and three people get out. They stole the Focus which was driven away 'in convoy' with the Audi. The Focus failed to stop in Groveley Lane, Birmingham, and police attempted to stop it. Two people left the Focus and climbed into the Audi, driven by the defendant.

Mr Sapwell described Shorthouse ramming a police vehicle. An officer suffered back pain as a result and it caused £1,500 of damage to the police car.

The chase lasted 37 minutes and covered a distance of 30km. It involved officers from both West Mercia Police and West Midlands Police. Shorthouse drove at speeds of up to 100mph with typical speeds of between 70 and 80mph in 30mph roads.

"He failed to stop at roundabouts, t-junctions and traffic lights showing red, forcing other vehicles to take evasive action to avoid collisions" said Mr Sapwell.

Shorthouse also reversed to attempt to ram a pursuing police vehicle. Towards the end of the chase all the car's tyres were punctured, either by stingers deployed by police or by the manner of the driving itself.

Mr Sapwell added: "The car was boxed in by a police dog handler vehicle and a dog was set on the defendant to catch him. He received a bite from the dog."

James Bryce, defending, said: "He has always had an abiding interest in cars and speed.

"He started mixing with the wrong people and has become embroiled in this offence."

After the dog bite Mr Bryce said the defendant was on the operating table for two to three hours and had suffered significant ligament damage.

He said: "It could be that is a life long injury. He may not be able to drive again."

Mr Bryce told the judge Shorthouse's dad had been diagnosed with vascular dementia last year with a life expectancy of three years.

Judge Jim Tindal said: "Not only was the vehicle stolen, it was driven in a dangerous way."

He jailed Shorthouse of Greenford Road, Birmingham, for 18 months and banned him from driving for three years. He must also complete an extended driving retest.