A JAILBIRD whose lies led to the arrest of two innocent men was back behind bars last night.

Brothers Jason and Mark Cox were held after John Ward claimed he had been robbed by them.

The pair were detained overnight until police realised 27-year-old Ward had made up the story.

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Ward – who had been out of prison for just four days – was jailed for 15 months for the lie.

He pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

The court heard how Ward met Mark Cox while they were both being held in Durham Prison.

Ward was released on May 25 and spent the weekend on a drink and drugs bender with the brothers in Middlesbrough.

On the Sunday morning, they walked from Teesside to County Durham along the A171 towards Sedgefield.

Ward went into a Travel Lodge during the journey and the brothers continued walking to their homes in Bowburn, Durham.

When he was challenged by a hotel guest as he snooped around, Ward claimed he had been robbed on the road and a 999 call was made to police.

Officers took the apparent victim for a ride around the area, and he pointed out the brothers as those responsible.

Mark Currer, mitigating, said Ward's life had been blighted by drugs, but he was keen to beat his habit.

He said he had been in and out of prison most of his adult life and was “effectively institutionalised”.

Mr Currer added: “He is aware at 27 years of age his life has got to change direction for the better.”

Ward, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, was told by Judge Michael Taylor: “It appears you are somebody who makes heavy weather of life and are determined to make things appear worse than they are.

“It is a matter for you whether you put drugs behind you.”