Banned driver had stash of cocaine

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A SOUTH Tyneside man has avoided jail after being stopped by police behind the wheel of a car – less than a month after being handed a year-long driving ban.

Michael Mullen, of Lily Crescent, Whitburn, was travelling through Edge Lane in Liverpool with his girlfriend when officers pulled over the Volkswagen Golf he was driving.

After finding out he was a disqualified driver, a search of the vehicle also found a quantity of cocaine stashed in the vehicle.

The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, using a motor vehicle without third party insurance and possessing a Class A drug at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The court heard that Mullen was given a 12-month road ban on November 26 for an offence of driving with excess alcohol.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “At 9.10am on December 22 officers on mobile patrol caused a vehicle to stop.

“The defendant appeared extremely anxious and nervous and initially provided a name other than his own.”

After Mullen did provide his details, police accessed their computer database to find he was serving a driving ban.

They also found a quantity of cocaine in the footwell and dashboard of the car, which Mullen said was for his own personal use.

Geoffrey Forrester, defending, said Mullen had been driven down to Liverpool by his girlfriend and only got behind the wheel when she fell ill.

Mr Forrester said: “His girlfriend had driven down to Liverpool. He only took over the driving of the vehicle when she became ill.

“He wasn’t going any great distance and was intending to park up when events overtook him and he was stopped by police.

“This was not a flagrant or wanton disregard of the court order. I accept this takes him up and beyond the custody threshold.

“I would ask that you suspend that sentence. If he has the slightest thought of driving, alarm bells will go off in his head.

“He knows he would be sending himself to prison.”

David Gouch, chairman of the magistrates, gave Mullen a 17-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and an 18-month community supervision order, with 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £80.

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