A DRIVER who got behind the wheel despite being disqualified has been allowed to keep his licence.

Robert Baines was stopped by police in an Audi A3 in Portland Place, Darlington, on January 15 despite having been banned for three years for a previous offence in February 2010.

The 32-year-old of Hundens Lane, Darlington, admitted driving while disqualified and without insurance at a hearing at Darlington Magistrates’ Court.

Baines, who has 26 previous convictions, also pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer and failing to surrender to police bail, which put him in breach of a two-year conditional discharge from September last year.

Baines represented himself in court and pleaded with magistrates to keep his licence - which was only returned to him after the ban ended a few days ago - as he is setting up his own business.

Magistrates gave him a 12-month community order with 12 months of supervision and endorsed his licence with six penalty points.

He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge, and his conditional discharge was allowed to continue.

Chairman of the bench, Glynn Wales, said: “We have taken a charitable view and taken your word that you are trying to set up this company.

“We are going some way to help you and allow you to drive. Watch your driving, that is the main thing.”