A PERSISTENT drinker who has made scores of nuisance 999 ambulance calls while under the influence, is to remain behind bars for at least another fortnight.

John Newman, 35, was given the first anti-social behaviour order in County Durham last month due to a course of conduct which has seen him arrested 212 times in recent years.

The orders were new powers given to local councils and the police to deal with persistent troublemakers by Home Secretary Jack Straw last year.

Newman risked prison if he breached the terms of the order, which included making only genuine 999 calls, and avoiding appearing drunk in Durham city.

But Durham Crown Court was told he twice breached those conditions within a matter of weeks, making an unnecessary call to the ambulance service in Bishop Auckland and being arrested for drunkenness in Durham city centre.

He was recently given a one month prison term for the drunkenness breach by city magistrates, and on Tuesday, July 11, he was sentenced to two months behind bars by Derwentside magistrates for the nuisance 999 call.

Newman, of Braunespath Estate, New Brancepeth, appealed against the first sentence at the crown court last Friday.

But his barrister, Brian Russell, said he found himself in a 'novel position' as that was overtaken by the two-month sentence imposed three days earlier.

The court was told that with good behaviour Newman's earliest release date is August 10, but Mr Russell said if he does not change his ways he faces increasingly longer sentences.

He said a term of probation, with an order to attend a drying out clinic, may prove a more suitable alternative.

The appeal hearing was adjourned for three weeks to allow a psychological report to be carried out on Newman to assess his suitability for such a probation order.

Adjourning the hearing, Judge Michael Cartlidge told Newman: "I think the court is unlikely to release this man unless it's persuaded there's something in place for him to go to, otherwise he would be breaching the order straight away."