THE probation service was criticised in court yesterday for its report on a drink driver.

Ian Stannard, 40, of Brecksfield, Skelton, York, had pleaded guilty to drink-driving, making off without paying for petrol, not having insurance or licence on two occasions and not having a test certificate.

Peter Scott, prosecuting, said Stannard had filled a Vauxhall Cavalier with the petrol at Clifton Moor, York, on June 16.

On August 31, police at Knaresborough saw him driving a Ford Fiesta erratically, having seen him staggering earlier.

Tests showed he was nearly three times the limit.

Harrogate magistrates had adjourned the hearing while a probation report was prepared but they and Stannard's solicitor Clive Farndon were unhappy with the content of the document which they received.

Yesterday, Mr Farndon said he had been surprised at the report, which was "almost recommending'' immediate custody.

He said that sentencing guidelines pointed to a ban and a community penalty for that level of drink-driving and a fine or conditional discharge for failure to pay for the petrol.

Mr Farndon said: "It would appear he did not get on very well with the probation officer who interviewed him and this seems to have manifested it self in a report which, in some respects, is quite misleading.''

He said the report suggested Stannard felt no remorse although he had said sorry to the court.

It had also exaggerated how much alcohol Stannard had consumed.

Presiding magistrate Jim Fender said that the court was not accustomed to a pre-sentence report which was so negative.

He said that because of that, and the challenge from Mr Farndon, the hearing would be adjourned until October 13 for the probation service to look again at the case. Stannard was bailed.