A DRUNKEN man vandalised a Job Centre worker's car in frustration at having his benefits being suspended, a court heard.

Darlington Magistrates’ Court was told today (Tuesday, March 25) that Darren Pratt went drinking in Yates’ wine bar on Skinnergate in the town after he found out that his benefits had been sanctioned on March 3.

After drinking several bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale, Pratt, of Russell Street, Darlington, set off home and en route spotted a parked Nissan Micra he recognised as belonging to a Job Centre worker.

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He set about scratching the car’s paintwork with a key, causing almost £500 worth of damage.

Prosecutor, Paula Sanderson, said that Pratt was also heard uttering a racist slur against the car’s Asian owner.

Mrs Sanderson read a statement written by the victim who said: “This whole thing has left me feeling very shaken and upset.

“I don’t expect damage caused to my property for just trying to do my job, and the additional racial slur made by the perpetrator made it all the more upsetting.”

Pratt, 45, admitted criminal damage and using words as racially aggravated harassment.

Mitigating, Sonny Lawson said that although Pratt used to appear before the court fairly regularly in the 1990s and early 2000s, he had now stayed out of trouble for almost ten years.

He told the court that Pratt made full and frank admissions to the police and the court and had realised the foolishness of his actions.

Mr Lawson said: “This is an unsavoury offence, there is nothing to say to justify what he did, but he had his benefits sanctioned. He was upset by that, he consumed an amount of alcohol, went home, saw the car and acted.”

He added: “The person to blame for his benefits being sanctioned is himself; he accepts that.”

Magistrates ordered Pratt to pay £480 compensation to the victim and imposed a tagged curfew between 8pm and 7am for the next eight weeks.

He was also told to pay £85 in court costs, bringing the total owed up to £565.