A BANNED driver who got behind the wheel of a car has been spared an immediate prison sentence by magistrates.

A court heard Thomas Yanis Spencer, of Brathay Crescent, Barrow, was involved in a crash when driving a Nissan Qashqai on Ferry Road in the town on November 1, 2020.

Spencer, 33, had been out for a meal with his then-partner and her children during the afternoon but then took his partner’s car as he planned to drive back to his mother’s home in Barrow, defence solicitor Andy Gallagher told South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court.

At around 7pm Spencer collided with a Vauxhall Zafira. Prosecutor Peter Kelly told the court the defendant had been driving on the wrong side of the road.

Spencer then ‘panicked’ and fled before Cumbria Police officers attended the scene.

In 2020, Spencer was banned from driving after he failed to provide a specimen for analysis, and in June, the Crown Court then opted to hand the 33-year-old a financial penalty instead of a custodial sentence for breaching the order.

Having already committed other driving-related offences in 2011 and 2018, Mr Gallagher asked magistrates to give Spencer a ‘final opportunity’ and spare him an immediate custodial sentence.

Mr Gallagher said: “He has very significant issues with his mental health and drug abuse. Recently, he has attended the Dova Unit and has been accessing The Well to deal with his substance abuse. It seems that he is making some progress, he has been clean since April and that is confirmed by his mother.

“He has taken a chance when he took the car and became involved in the accident and then panicked and ran off from the scene. He takes full responsibility for what happened and apologises for it."

He admitted aggravated vehicle taking, failing to report an accident and driving while banned and with no insurance.

Chair of the bench Sharron Gillam sentenced Spencer to an 18-week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, an 18-month driving ban and a £720 fine.