A Wigan man who has been banned from the road for the seventh time has narrowly escaped jail.
Philip Pope, of Vulcan Road, received a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court to driving a Renault Megane while disqualified.
The court heard Pope, 36, has a long and unenviable record of serious road offences and had twice been given bans for dangerous driving which included having to be retested before he could get back behind the wheel.
However, Martin Jones, defending, said the latest offence was a technical infringement as he was only in court for not having L-plates on the car.
Prosecuting, Tess Kenyon told the court a police officer who knew Pope was disqualified saw him getting into the vehicle and followed until it stopped in a cul-de-sac.
His wife and their baby son were both in the car at the time.
The court was told Pope had got himself a provisional licence to begin learning so he could take the extended retest demanded by the courts and thought he could drive as long as his wife was supervising.
However, as a learner driver he did not have the required L plates, telling police he had previously had them but they had been stolen.
Ms Kenyon told the court Pope had twice been given bans which were essentially indefinite as they last until he is tested again, in 2002 and 2005.
He has also received no fewer than six disqualifications in total, the court heard.
Ms Kenyon said: “His record does him no favours.”
However, speaking in Pope’s defence Mr Jones said the latest incident, which happened on September 19, was an oversight by his client, who was trying to do the right thing.
Mr Jones said: “Unfortunately, while he had a proper supervised driver with him, he wasn’t displaying L-plates.
“The family has suffered as a result of this. The vehicle has been seized and it has not been returned by the police.
“On his record all the offences are in Merseyside. Since then he has turned his life around and the family moved here to get away from that offending history.
“He tries to keep out of trouble and thought he was going about things in the correct way. He is disgusted with himself that he is back before the court.”
However, the bench took a dim view of Pope’s history of offending and sentenced him to 12 weeks behind bars, suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to do 15 days of rehab activity requirements with the probation service and was disqualified from driving for 12 months.
He also has to pay £207 in costs and a victim surcharge.