A BANNED driver caught behind the wheel of a van has been jailed for six months.

Aidan Lee was on a 12-month suspended prison sentence imposed in December 2016 for an offence of aggravated vehicle taking.

In the earlier incident he led police on a high-speed chase through Hartlepool in a stolen car before crashing into another motorist on a dirt track.

Lee, 23, was also banned from the roads for 12 months when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

But despite having the jail term hanging over him and the disqualification, he was spotted on CCTV driving a Ford Transit onto a garage forecourt in Blackhall, County Durham.

Police checked the footage after a man he was with stole an energy drink from the filling station shop in July last year.

Stephen Constantine, mitigating, said Lee had been a passenger, but was worried about his friend’s erratic driving and decided taking the wheel was “the lesser of two evils”.

Judge Howard Crowson also banned Lee from the roads for a year after he ends his sentence, telling him: “I think you were very fortunate to have your sentence suspended the first time around."

Father-to-be Lee, of Meryl Gardens, Hartlepool, admitted charges of driving while disqualified and having no insurance.