A ROOFER who was tricked by a rival into driving while he was banned has been spared jail.

Magistrates at Darlington yesterday were told that Kevin Sykes, 32, had been caught three times driving while disqualified.

Sykes, from Eldon Street, admitted the offence and received a suspended sentence after magistrates heard how he had taken steps to avoid driving, but had been tricked into this offence.

Stephen Andrews, mitigating, said Sykes had hired a driver to avoid falling foul of the law.

On the day of his arrest, on August 17, a former work colleague had telephoned Sykes to tell him his van needed moving from Honeypot Lane, in Darlington.

Mr Andrews said it was someone who Sykes had once been friendly with but had fallen out with.

Upon arrival, Sykes was told his driver could not drive the van and he had to do it himself.

Mr Andrews said: "They are rivals. This man has an interest in seeing him away from the market place.

"They would not let anybody else move it and he had no choice but to get it off Honeypot Lane and then swap seats."

After leaving Honeypot Lane, Sykes was pulled over by the police.

It was later confirmed that police had received a telephone call warning them Sykes was likely to be driving along Honeypot Lane.

Bench chairman Brian Avery sentenced Sykes to the maximum six months in prison, but suspended the sentence for 12 months.

He said: "It seems to look like you have been set up, but you fell for the three-card trick and you have driven knowing full well you should not have driven.

"Someone has had it in for you and this is why you were run in.

"You can't come here again with the same excuse."

Sykes was also sentenced to 100 hours community service and ordered to pay £34 costs.