MAGISTRATES have jailed a former soldier who repeatedly drove on public roads despite never having a driving licence.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday that John Dean Hall was driving a suspected stolen van on Gilesgate Bank in Durham when he was stopped by officers in December.

Hall said he had bought the van off Gumtree the previous day and he initially gave police his brother’s details because he knew he did not have a licence to drive it.

He was charged with obstructing an officer, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

Hall also pleaded guilty to fly-tipping whereby he charged a man £10 to remove a fridge and household waste which he then dumped on land in Shotton Colliery.

Prosecuting, Clare Irving said that 31-year-old Hall has been disqualified from driving eight times and been caught driving whilst banned five times.

Neil Hodgson, defending, said Hall had spent four years in the Army – which included a tour of Afghanistan – leaving him with PTSD.

He told that court that Hall’s ex-girlfriend is pregnant with his child and Mr Hodgson suggested that a community order punishment would help Hall "sort himself out" rather than custody.

A probation report reiterated Hall’s mental problems and the trouble he has had in finding steady employment since he was dismissed from the Army in 2010.

The report said these problems led to him claiming sickness benefit but he had bought the van with the intention of launching a removals service.

He told the probation service that he intended for a friend to do the driving.

Magistrate Kevin Radford said that there was no getting away from the fact that Hall had been caught driving on numerous occasions whilst under disqualification orders.

He said that the fact he had bought a vehicle while disqualified was an aggravating feature.

Mr Radford added: “You have shown complete disregard to any court order, therefore we feel that we have no other option but to give you a custodial sentence.”

Hall, of Hawthorn Street, Easington Colliery, was jailed for 16-weeks and ordered to pay £767.24 in court charges.