A previously banned driver’s “stupid” decision to take a newly acquired car for a drive with one flat tyre could have landed him a prison sentence.

Stephen Duncan received a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Durham Crown Court in December 2020.

It followed a conviction for dangerous driving, arising from a high-speed police chase in the Chester-le-Street area, in May that year.

As part of his sentence, Duncan received an 18-month driving disqualification with a requirement to pass an extended test if he was to legally be permitted to drive again.

Read more: Drug driver led police on eight minute chase in and around Darlington

But the 41-year-old defendant, of Glencoe Avenue, Chester-le-Street, was back before the court today (Monday February 13) having admitted driving while disqualified and without insurance at a previous hearing.

His new offences arose from a police stop of an Audi A4 Estate car driven by him, again in Chester-le-Street, on October 17, last year.

The court heard that the vehicle came to police attention as one of its tyres appeared to be flat.

Neil Jones, prosecuting, said a check was made to confirm the Audi did belong to Duncan, who only bought it two days earlier.

Although he claimed to have insurance, he was unable to say which company he had taken out cover with and he was still disqualified from driving at the time.

Mr Jones said although the period of the 2020 18-month ban had ended, Duncan had not passed an extended test, as the court ruled, so he remained disqualified.

The October offences also put Duncan in breach of the suspended sentence of 2020.

Mr Jones said the defendant’s record of ten convictions feature 28 offences, including motoring misdemeanours dating from 1999.

Read more: Banned driver chased by police on roads through County Durham village

Lewis Kerr, in mitigation, said the defendant could recall little of the sentence passed by the court in 2020 as the main thing he was aware of was the relief that he was not going immediately to prison.

Mr Kerr said the defendant did engage with other elements of his suspended sentence and did not appreciate that he remained disqualified as the 18-month ban had expired.

Recorder Paul Reid told Mr Kerr, however: “Your client was fortunate not to be sent immediately to prison for that piece of driving in 2020.

“Then going out driving with what appeared to have been a flat tyre in October last year was an act of utter stupidity.”

But the Recorder acknowledged that Duncan had engaged with the Probation Service well on his previous sentence.

Read next: 

               Businessman driving BMW M3 led police on car chase from Durham to Washington

               David Tolson: Driver jailed for killing County Durham grandad

               Banned driver sped past police car on A1(M) in County Durham

If you want to read more great stories, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo for as little as £1.25 a week. Click here

He, therefore, imposed a 12-month community order, during which the defendant must attend up to 35 rehabilitation activity days overseen by the Probation Service.

Duncan was also fined £100 for the breach of the suspended sentence as well as having to pay a £114 statutory court surcharge.

Until he passes an extended re-test he will also remain legally unable to drive.