A TEENAGER caught with a knife and drugs while on a suspended prison sentence avoided jail again because a judge did not want taxpayers to foot his bill.

Jordan Lawson was stopped by police in Darlington at 2am after an anonymous tip from a member of the public about a male dressed head-to-toe in black.

The caller said they had seen Lawson, 19, dump a long silver blade in a drain, and he had a Stanley knife and heroin in his pockets when he was searched.

His lawyer, Robert Mochrie, told Teesside Crown yesterday that Lawson had no reason to have the tool.

He admitted possessing a bladed article and possessing Class A drugs, and was given a six-month suspended sentence with a curfew and unpaid work.

The judge, Recorder James Brown, was told he had been given a suspended three-month term in February last year for perverting the course of justice.

Mr Recorder Brown told Lawson, of Brankin Drive, Darlington: "People who breach suspended sentence orders virtually inevitably expect to go to prison.

"I have given significant thought to this, and if am very very close to saying this order should be activated with the consequence that you serve a sentence.

"Frankly, I don't think it is appropriate that if you can work and you can be suitably punished by this court, the public should pick up the tab for you being in prison."

Lawson was given a six-month suspended sentence with supervision, a six-month curfew between 7pm and 7am and was ordered to do 60 hours' community work.

The court heard that the first suspended sentence was imposed when Lawson tried to take the blame for an assault at a school - when he was not the attacker.

Mr Mochrie said the teenager had recently found work as an administration assistant, and was hoping to get a licence to work in security.