CRAFTY Keith Smailes dodged a speeding fine by claiming he was disabled and could not drive - then walked from court and got straight behind the wheel of his car.

Suspicious police followed Smailes after magistrates had acquitted him of the offence.

As he prepared to drive away, he was arrested and yesterday, he was back before court - this time to be sentenced for perverting the course of justice.

Smailes, 49, a former construction worker, was snapped on a speed camera while breaking the limit on the B1296 in Gateshead, on March 3.

He did not pay his fine and was summoned to appear before Gateshead magistrates on June 7.

Smailes was acquitted after telling the Bench that he had been unable to drive for a number of years because he was disabled.

But police caught him as he drove away from court in his car, which has a disabled badge. Yesterday, he was found guilty by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court of perverting the course of justice last month.

Smailes suffers from lumber canal stenosis, which means he has back pain and needs a morphine pump in his stomach.

Jane Foley, mitigating, said he had "a severe and debilitating illness" and asked the judge to consider a non-custodial sentence.

Smailes, of North View Terrace, Felling, Gates-head, was sentenced to nine months' detention, suspended for one year and ordered to pay £300 costs.