DRIVING to the shops while disqualified nearly resulted in a prison sentence for a man at Alloa Sheriff Court last week.

Stuart Gillan, 46, was in the dock on Thursday, April 4, having admitted two motoring offences on a previous occasion.

Sentencing had been deferred until this month for the preparation of a Criminal Justice Social Work report and a Restriction of Liberty Order assessment.

On February 8 this year, he was caught driving on Alloa Road, Clackmannan, while disqualified and without insurance.

Solicitor Kelly Howe claimed Gillan had taken the “very silly” decision to get behind the wheel in order to do some shopping before a store shut.

She said: “The vehicle is owned by him, but had been given to a friend.

“He was visiting the friend on this occasion, and wanted some items from a local shop.

“His friend was asleep, and the shop was closing quickly, and he took the very silly decision to get into the car and drive to the shop.”

In mitigation, she detailed that her client suffers from depression, and can sometimes become extremely withdrawn from society.

She added that he did have a record, but no similar offences, and said: “He is exceptionally fearful of custody.”

In response, sheriff Simon Collins claimed it may be the case that Gillan did not realise how serious the consequences of his offences could be.

He said: “He says he wouldn’t wish to go to prison, but he may be surprised to understand that driving while disqualified can lead you to prison.

“I’m saying that to him because it seems to me that there’s an alternative to custody given what what’s in this report – but only just.”

Gillan, of Stirling Road in Tullibody, was then handed a Community Payback Order with a 12 months supervision requirement.

He will also be required to complete 140 hours of unpaid work within six months, and was disqualified from driving for another year.

Before he left the dock, the sheriff warned him of how lucky he had been, stating: "You have narrowly escaped custody today."