A BANNED driver caught behind the wheel of a 4x4 was escaping after a family member held a knife to her throat, a court was told.

Lisayn Holden, of Fenby Avenue, Darlington, entered guilty pleas to driving while disqualified and having no insurance, when she appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe.

Lesley Burgess, prosecuting, said police received a report from a member of the public about the defendant driving, and where she was, and they stopped her.

She had been disqualified from driving until retaking a driving test after an earlier conviction for dangerous driving, but she told police she believed the ban was for 18 months.

She told them she was driving a car that she was considering buying.

Holden had five previous convictions for driving while disqualified and eight for holding no insurance.

Stephanie Thompson, mitigating on behalf of Holden, said a family member had been undergoing a mental breakdown in which he had locked his partner in the bathroom and was threatening to harm himself.

“Miss Holden was extremely frightened,” she said. “She called the police.”

The man then held a knife to her throat, Ms Thompson said, and ‘made threats to her wellbeing’.

Holden had got in the car but then the man began to jump on it.

“She had no other choice but to drive off,” she said.

It took 16 officers to get her family member down from the roof, where he had climbed, and he spent the weekend in custody after assaulting a police officer, the court was told.

Ms Thompson added: “There had been a genuine emergency which does fall short of a defence and I accept her previous convictions aggravate matters more.

“Ms H is desperate not to be disqualified again. She knew she shouldn’t have been in the car.”

A pre-sentence report by probation officers said Holden claimed she had to leave the property for her own safety and and just driven a short distance.

They said she was driving a friend’s vehicle which was insured for the friend to drive, and that Holden was hoping to obtain her driving licence again legally.

Magistrates said it was the sixth time the 44-year-old had been convicted of driving while disqualified.

They imposed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered her to go on rehabilitation activity days as well as a ‘thinking skills’ programme.

She was banned from driving for another 12 months and was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.