A DISQUALIFIED driver with a suspended jail sentence hanging over him, persuaded Island magistrates not to imprison him because of a delay receiving sick notes to explain his failure to do unpaid probation work.

Matthew Rawson, of Garden Way, Newport, admitted failing to comply with a suspended sentence order, imposed by Island magistrates on February 9, by failing to attend unpaid work on June 2 and July 28.

Rawson was handed a 12-week jail term, suspended for 12 months, which included a 12-month community order that included him completing 150 hours' unpaid work.

The 35 year old was convicted after he refused to provide a breath sample, both at the roadside and at the police station.

The former East Cowes man had also admitted failing to provide a drink-drive specimen for analysis.

So far, Rawson has completed 33 hours. Proof of absence from his unpaid work on both occasions was required, but he failed to provide it within set time limits, said Brian Start, of the Probation Service.

For Rawson, Keith Verrinder said his client's circumstances were unusual in that he had suffered a broken ankle and damaged ligaments after tripping on an area of artificial grass, which left him on crutches and unable to work.

Rawson had requested medical certificates electronically from his GP to cover the unpaid work absences, but there was a delay in receiving them, explained Mr Verrinder.

Rawson was fined £50.

Presiding magistrate, Gordon Cooper, said although he accepted the unusual circumstances of the breaches, he told Rawson his attitude towards communicating with the Probation Service had been "laid back".

Mr Cooper told Rawson: "The default position we have is to activate a suspended sentence, so if it was me, I would do everything possible not to put myself in a position where I could end up in prison.

"It is a reality that people on suspended sentence orders are skating on thin ice."