A reveler who sipped beer in front of the police panicked when they saw him driving five hours later.

Freelance spray painter Marc Hartley, 30, hyperventilated after being arrested by police – then refused to take a breath test or give a blood sample.

This led to Hartley, of Drake Close, South Shields, being banned from the roads for deliberately refusing to give a sample for analysis.

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The incident came after police met him at a house in Canterbury Street, South Shields, amid reports of a violation of Covid gatherings, a court has heard.

The encounter, at 11:23 p.m. on Friday, March 19, was recorded by a body-worn police camera, prosecutor Leanne Duffy said.

It was showing Hartley having a beer – and along with all the other occupants, he was ordered to vacate the premises at 12:07 am and to leave his alcohol behind.

Ms Duffy added: “At 4:45 am officers saw the accused at Crossgate in South Shields.

“His was the only vehicle on the forecourt of a gas station, no other car was present.

“Shortly after, they saw him get into the driver’s seat and leave. He was arrested and asked to provide a sample, but refused.

“He was forced to give a blood sample, but refused. There was no medical reason for it.

Janice Hall, defending, said: “The background is that the police attended an address where they spoke to various people including Mr Hartley.

“He wasn’t committing any offense, but he drank from a beer bottle. It was around midnight.

“Police have confirmed that people at the address are to drop their alcohol and go.

“He was then seen by the police at around 4:45 am, almost five hours later, but he was seen driving a vehicle.

“It’s likely he was under the limit at the time. Admittedly, there was no evidence of bad driving or impaired driving. “
Ms Hall added: “By the time he arrived at the police station, he was suffering from a panic attack. The criminal record shows that he was hyperventilating.

“He describes to me that he didn’t quite understand the warnings given to him, but he accepts that he is guilty.”

Hartley, who previously had good character, pleaded guilty to not providing a sample for analysis.

He was banned from driving for 16 months and fined £ 200, with court costs of £ 85 and a victim fine surcharge of £ 34.

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