Banned driver swapped seats with passenger in bid to beat the rap

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A MAN has been jailed for a catalogue of motoring offences.

Stephen Smith, of Hawkins Terrace, Murton, drove a car while disqualified and breached two earlier suspended sentences, Durham Crown Court heard.

Sean Dryden, prosecuting, said: “Police saw him driving on the A688 south of Durham City.

“The car turned around and stopped a short distance up the road.

“As officers approached they could see Smith in the process of swapping seats with his front seat passenger.

“When interviewed later he conceded he had driven from Bowburn services a short distance away.”

The court heard 27-year-old Smith was given a suspended sentence last year for leading police on a car chase around Murton.

He was given another suspended sentence for stealing diesel from lorry fuel tanks, and stealing alloy wheels from a BMW and a Honda.

Smith admitted driving while disqualified on July 18, last year, and two breaches of a suspended sentence.

Paul Cross, defending, said in mitigation: “The manner of Mr Smith’s driving that day was not poor.

“He was making good progress on the community part of the suspended sentences.

“There is a job for him to go to if allowed his liberty, but I accept his record is a significant aggravating feature.”

Judge Christopher Prince jailed Smith for 17-and-a-half months.

The judge told him: “You have a bad record for driving offences.

“The breaches indicate you are also unwilling to comply with orders of the court.

“It seems to me there is a high risk of you driving while disqualified again.”

The judge banned Smith from driving for three years.