A BANNED driver's court bid to overturn a prison sentence imposed last month for motoring offences, including drug driving, has fallen on deaf ears.

David Graeme Shepherd was given a 16-week custodial sentence by magistrates on September 11 after admitting driving while over the limit for drugs, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

The 32-year-old, of Stocks Green, Newton Aycliffe, lodged an appeal against the sentence, in particular the length of the custodial element.

The appeal, at Durham Crown Court, was told the conviction arose after he was stopped by police while at the wheel of a Vauxhall Astra, near Newton Aycliffe, at about 2pm, on Thursday January 2.

Uzma Khan, responding to the appeal for the Crown, said the officers who signalled for him to stop had suspicions as to his speed on the A167, prior to him coming to a halt on School Aycliffe Lane.

Miss Khan said he joined the officers in their vehicle and initially gave a false name, but subsequently confirmed his true identity.

It was established he was not insured, as he was disqualified in October last year, a ban that is not due to end until August 2023.

Miss Khan said Shepherd volunteered the information that he had taken cocaine the previous day, seeing in the New Year, and, after being taken to a police station, gave a blood test which produced a reading four times over the legal limit to drive for the breakdown element of cocaine.

When interviewed he made, “full and frank admissions”.

Miss Khan said his previous record includes three offences of drink driving, but also driving while disqualified and other breaches of court orders, including a suspended prison sentence.

Neil Bennett, representing the appellant, said the fact the case did not come to court until September was not the fault of Shepherd, but was down to delays due to the pandemic.

He said the magistrates took a starting point for sentence of 24 weeks, only two weeks short of their maximum powers, before reducing it by a third because of the guilty pleas, leading to the 16-week sentence.

Mr Bennett said this was excessive, given there were no aggravating features relating to the manner of Shepherd’s driving prior to him being stopped, while he volunteered the information to police that he had taken cocaine on a recreational basis on New Year’s Eve.

Mr Bennett said the cocaine, itself, had dissipated and it was only the breakdown element that remained in his system by the time he drove.

Asked why he took to the wheel, knowing he was banned, Mr Bennett said it was because he had discovered some employees of the security business he managed had not been paid and were threatening not to work that evening if their wages were not deposited in their bank accounts.

He took the decision to drive a friend’s car to go to make the amendment on the work computer to ensure the staff were paid.

Since the incident he has employed someone to drive for him.

Mr Bennett urged Judge Ray Singh, who heard the appeal with a magistrate, to shorten the sentence to allow for the release of Shepherd, who he said was able to provide a new address in Hoode Close.

Judge Singh said given Shepherd’s history of driving offences, and the fact it was only ten weeks after the previous disqualification was imposed, his appeal was dismissed.

He was also ordered to pay the £330 costs of the appeal hearing.