FORMER Newcastle United player Paul Gascoigne has been spared jail for driving while four times the legal alcohol limit.
Appearing before Newcastle magistrates yesterday, the former England and Newcastle midfielder was handed a two-month jail term, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to undergo treatment for alcoholism.
Gascoigne, 43, was also banned from driving for three years, made subject to a 12-month supervision order and must undertake a six-month drink programme after rehab.
His sentencing came two months after police pulled him over in his MG sports car in Jesmond, Newcastle.
The former Euro 96 hero looked gaunt and nervous as District Judge Stephen Earl told him it was his last chance to avoid prison.
He said he was suspending the sentence – which could have been up to 12 weeks – only in recognition of progress he is making at the Providence rehab clinic on the south coast.
“I am sure some will disagree with me,” the judge said. “I hope not to see you again.”
Standing in a dark pin-striped suit and with a gold watch loose on his wrist, Gascoigne had earlier whispered “am I going down?” to his solicitor Stephen Andrews, who smiled and shook his head.
Mr Andrews said Gascoigne now plans to move more permanently to the south to be near the rehab clinic.
He told the court: “The long-term plan is to find him accommodation in that area.
“The talk now is of an extensive and elongated period of support while not actually under the roof of the Providence Project, but certainly within easy reach, given the continued support they would propose to offer.”
He said the rehab centre has witnessed a “massive shift” in Gascoigne’s attitude towards treatment.
“Previously, it has been on his terms,” he said. “He’s gone in, he has used it as he saw fit and of course relapsed because he has not done the full programme. This time it has been on their terms.”