Motorist caught five times driving with no insurance escapes jail term

Peter Owens in his Landrover on the beach at Seaton Carew

Peter Owens in his Landrover on the beach at Seaton Carew

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SERIAL scrounger Peter Owens who bragged about his benefit-funded lifestyle was caught driving a staggering FIVE high-powered 4x4 cars - all without insurance.

The 43-year-old was stopped by police five times in just seven months last year, each time behind the wheel of a different plush vehicle.

Last year, obese Owens boasted to a blackmail trial jury: “I like big cars because I’m a big man”.

boasted to a blackmail trial jury: “I like big cars because I’m a big man”.

But he will not be able to drive any of his beloved cars for three years after he was banned by magistrates for a string of vehicle offences.

Justices said they wanted to give him a jail sentence for his repeated flouting of driving laws, but said their powers did not allow it.

Owens was first caught driving an uninsured Jeep Cherokee in Barnard Castle, County Durham, on May 31 last year.

Then in July, he was caught in a Mitsubishi Shogun in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, when he sped off from police. The vehicle was later found to have no insurance.

The following month, Owens was caught in a Land Rover Discovery at The Lanyard on Hartlepool marina.

A police check soon revealed he was not insured to drive it.

In November, Owens was caught behind the wheel of an uninsured Suzuki Vitara while poaching with others in North Yorkshire.

And just a week later he was stopped again, this time in an uninsured Ford Maverick on Catcote Road, in Hartlepool.

Owens pleaded guilty to five offences of having no insurance, one of failing to produce a licence, one of having no licence, failing to produce insurance documents, and poaching.

He was disqualified from driving for three years and fined £550.

John Relton, mitigating, said: “He does not seek to trivialise these offences. He now regrets his actions.”

Chairman of the bench, Lynne Hodgson, told Owens: “We did consider the most serious sentencing we could impose, a curfew and we even considered custody.

“Unfortunately, our guidelines don’t enable us to do that, the offences don’t carry custodial or curfew sentences.

“If you are found driving when you are disqualified you could go to prison.

“You must not get behind the wheel of a car.”

Owens, of Sydenham Road, Hartlepool, has achieved national notoriety for a catalogue of crimes and scrounging off the system.

He previously bought a quad bike with cash left over from a £1,000 grant he had been given to redecorate his house.

In 2009, he was given a lenient sentence at Teesside Crown Court for a baseball bat attack because of health problems connected to his size. Last year, he complained after his Vauxhall Zafira mobility car was taken from him after he was fined for not having a licence for it.

Last September, Owens brought Seaton Carew to a standstill for nine hours when he drove up and down the beach in another of his 4x4s.

He later apologised for the disruption blaming the episode on physical and mental health problems.

His last court appearance saw him spared instant jail in January after he was found guilty of blackmailing a car wash boss he threatened after a machine damaged the wheels on Owens’ S-Type Jaguar.

The judge handed him a suspended prison sentence, again because of Owens health problems.