Drink-driver Gazza avoids jail term
Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne has avoided an immediate jail term for driving while more than four times the legal alcohol limit.
The troubled 43-year-old ex-midfielder was given an eight-week sentence, suspended for a year, when he appeared at Newcastle Magistrates' Court on Thursday.
Following the hearing, his lawyer Stephen Andrews said Gazza was relieved and that it was a "good result".
Gascoigne was arrested in the city after police spotted him driving an MG erratically. He was found to have 142mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath - the legal limit is 35mg - when he was tested in the early hours of October 8.
He admitted drink-driving at a hearing in October. On that occasion, District Judge Stephen Earl told him that 12 weeks in jail was a possibility given the circumstances.
Gascoigne was due to be sentenced last month but failed to appear as he had checked himself into a rehab clinic on the south coast.
On Thursday, Judge Earl said the seriousness of the offence crossed the custody threshold, but he passed a suspended sentence after hearing Gascoigne was responding well to treatment at the Providence Project clinic.
"You are not heavily convicted and you have nothing currently on your record of a similar nature," he said.
But the sentence does not signal the end of Gascoigne's troubles.
A separate drink-drive charge, which he denies, will be heard next week at Northallerton Magistrates' Court.