THE chaotic life of fallen football idol Paul Gascoigne continued yesterday when his court appearance on a drinkdriving charge descended into farce.

First, his solicitor withdrew after magistrates refused to adjourn the case, leaving the former England midfielder to conduct his own defence.

When the hearing resumed after lunch, during which the former England star signed autographs, magistrates said there was no longer enough time to hear the trial. After four hours of legal wrangling it was felt that proceedings should be adjourned – whereupon Gazza’s solicitor, Stephen Andrews, reappeared to say he would be representing Gascoigne when the trial gets under way next month.

But chairman of the bench Nigel Tapley warned the former Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Tottenham star that if he failed to appear next time without legal representation the case would proceed regardless.

Gascoigne is accused of driving a Ford Transit van while more than four times the drink-drive limit on February 7 at Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire.

Northallerton Magistrates’ Court was told he had 467 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine. The legal limit is 107. He denies the charge and has also pleaded not guilty to driving without insurance.

Yesterday morning his solicitor Mr Andrews asked the magistrates for a further adjournment for the trial – which was originally listed for July this year – on the grounds that he had only met his client that morning.

He revealed that correspondence from Gascoigne’s former solicitor had not been seen by his client because he had moved from his former home in Jesmond and was now living with his father in Gateshead.

“He has been through a particularly difficult and troubled time and as a result of that he has not been for some period of time staying at that address,” Mr Andrews said.

The court heard that his first solicitor quit the case after claiming not to have heard from Gascoigne.

Mr Andrews said: “I received the court papers on Monday and I do not think I would be doing my client justice if I did not ask for an adjournment.

“He has a very difficult and technical defence and I’m not in a position to produce tangible evidence or concoct a defence to go ahead on this basis.”

However, Mr Tapley refused the submission saying: “We can’t go on having excuse after excuse being put to the court.”

He told Gascoigne: “We feel that you have, for whatever reason, caused the delay and we feel therefore this has to be put a stop to.”

Magistrates said they intended to hear the case, along with that of co-accused Michael Harvey.

Harvey, 41, of Wood Street, Gateshead, is accused of similar offences. He has denied driving a Ford Transit van over the legal limit on February 7, in Leeming Bar, near Bedale, North Yorkshire.

The court was told he had 259 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine. The legal limit is 107 milligrams.

He has also denied driving without insurance and driving while disqualified.

Police were called after the pair, who were returning from a fly fishing trip, called at the Regency Pizza takeaway, in Leeming Bar.

Charles Weidner, representing Harvey, also applied for the case to be adjourned.

He said his client’s case would be prejudiced because Gascoigne was no longer legally represented. His application was also rejected.

However, after resuming the case after lunch, the magistrates were left with no option but to reschedule the trial after being advised there was insufficient time to hear the case – in which Gascoigne would have represented himself.

Mr Andrews then returned to court and said he would represent Gascoigne at the trial – on December 13 and 14.

At the end of the hearing, the chairman told Gascoigne: “If you turn up without legal representation at the next hearing, the trial will start without you.”

A fourth charge was also put to Harvey. He reaffirmed his not guilty pleas to the earlier three charges, but pleaded guilty to being in charge of a motor vehicle when the amount of alcohol in his urine was 259mg in 100ml.