A TEENAGER spurned a chance offered by a judge, six months ago, and is now starting his first custodial sentence.

Leon Kennedy was given a 21-month sentence in a young offenders’ institution (YOI), suspended for 18 months, for offences of dangerous driving and handling stolen goods, at Durham Crown Court, in April.

But he was back before the court for sentence for careless driving and handling stolen goods, offences committed on June 24, just two months after he received the suspended sentence.

The 18-year-old, of Fifth Street, Horden, admitted the charges before magistrates recently and the case was committed to the crown court as it put him in breach with his suspended sentence.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, told the sentencing hearing that police received information in the early hours of June 24, linking a Volkswagen Golf with a burglary at Mountain Warehouse, at the Arnison Centre, Durham.

Mr Dryden said a patrol officer saw a Golf on South Terrace, Horden, at 4.40am, and suspected it was being driven by Kennedy, who he knew.

The officer positioned his vehicle so it straddled the centre white lines of the road, to try to block Kennedy’s progress.

But, the defendant swerved round the police car, mounting the pavement.

Mr Dryden said the Golf was abandoned and a foot chase followed, which ended with Kennedy being found hiding inside a tent in a garden in a nearby street.

Police searched the Golf and recovered 75 stolen jackets, worth £3,500, from the back seat and boot. All were returned to the store from where they were taken in the earlier burglary.

Mr Dryden said Kennedy was arrested and in a written statement denied being the driver of the Golf, at any time, and made no reply to further questions.

He was originally charged with dangerous driving and burglary, but when the charges were amended to careless driving and handling stolen goods, Kennedy admitted them at the magistrates’ court, in August.

Jane Waugh, mitigating, said Kennedy admitted the charges at the earliest opportunity once they were changed from the original offences.

She said all his offending has taken place since he was 17 and the time awaiting sentence has been his first taste of custody.

Imposing a 21-month immediate sentence, Recorder Tony Hawks told Kennedy: “I gave you a chance with a suspended sentence in April, but I’m afraid you didn’t take that opportunity.”

Kennedy was also banned from driving for two years.