A MAN who discharged a fire extinguisher across a petrol forecourt before throwing it at a window had been on a drug and alcohol binge after receiving his first benefit payment of £800, a court heard.

Michael Lonergan, 25, received his first payment of universal credit and personal independence payment (PIP) and spent it on Valium and alcohol, his solicitor told Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

John Garside, prosecuting, said: “He went to Bowburn Jet Garage and fired the fire extinguisher all over the forecourt and then smashed a garage window.”

Elizabeth Aisbett, mitigating, said: “He went to the garage to purchase alcohol once without issue. He then returned to buy more alcohol and asked for the bottles to be placed in two bags to prevent them from splitting, he was refused and when he was passed the bags they did indeed split and he lost his temper.

“He accepts that his behaviour was unacceptable and puts it down to his alcoholic state which he says was becoming a bit of a problem.

"He received a large payment of about £800 and instead of budgeting he spent it on Valium and alcohol.

"The incident was an impulsive action and was not premeditated at all.”

Lonergan pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal damage on March 21 this year.

Chair of the bench Christopher Cunnington-Shore ordered him to pay £300 compensation to the garage for the fire extinguisher and the damage to the window.

Lonergan appeared at court from prison where he remains on remand for a separate issue.