A man who encouraged a friend to crash into a shop following an argument about dog food and booze has walked free from court the day after he became a father.

Alexander Railton was told to remember how he felt when he said goodbye to his new born before heading to Teesside Crown Court to be sentenced.

Recorder Richard Woolfall sentenced the defendant to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months but warned him that any further offences would land him in custody.

The court also heard how the 33-year-old is due to attend an appointment relating to a possible diagnosis of bowel cancer and the judge said any delay in treatment could prove ‘fatal’.

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The judge said: “There are three things that have tipped it in your favour, so that I am not going to send you to prison today – firstly, you became a father for the second time yesterday.

“I hope when you said goodbye to your new-born, you can remember what that felt like and how close you came to putting that in jeopardy by not seeing your child grow up for the next six months.

“Secondly, it’s not only that but we also need to be there to support your partner.

“Thirdly, you have an appointment tomorrow and if I was to lock you up today the medical testing could be delayed.

“If it is cancer, putting it bluntly, if it was delayed it could be a fatal decision.”

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said the defendant and a co-accused argued with the owner of the Somal Mini Market on Brinkburn Road, Darlington, following a dispute about the price of dog food and alcohol.

She added: “The defendant and his co-accused returned to the shop and threatened to put the Jeep through it – the complainant thought he meant the shop.

“A short time later the complainant heard a loud bang and CCTV showed the vehicle, driven by the co-accused, was rammed into the shop on two occasions.

“The defendant can then be seen coming out of the shop and waving at the co-accused before walking away.”

Railton, of St Marks Court, Coundon Grange, Bishop Auckland, was found guilty of aiding and abetting dangerous driving and pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour on February 26 last year.

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Tony Davis, mitigating, said his client did not expect his co-accused to drive the 4x4 into the shop but accepts the verdict from the magistrates’ court.

Railton was also ordered to carry out 21 hours of a Thinking Skills course and attend ten rehabilitation activity requirement days.

He was also banned from driving for two years.