A MAN who crashed a hire vehicle in a failed suicide bid set it alight and reported it stolen to police.

Stuart Hall, 31, admitted deliberately driving the Fiat Ducato into a fence at Lower Dinsdale, near Darlington, before using his own lighter to burn it down.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on Thursday heard the defendant hired the van from Darlington Self Drive two days before the incident on November 26 last year.

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Stephen Andrews, mitigating, said the incident was a “failed suicide attempt” following a break-up, adding: “The way he chose to deal with it was to try and cover his tracks.”

The vehicle was written off.

Hall, of Berrybank Crest, Darlington, pleaded guilty to arson and causing wasteful employment of police.

For each charge he was sentenced to six months in prison, to run concurrently, suspended for 18 months.

He was made subject to an 18-month community order with 20 rehabilitation days and was ordered to pay costs totalling £200.