A drink-driver stopped by North Wales Police turned out to be a prisoner who had been “on his toes” for 17 years.

Greg Newby, 42, was granted home leave from Kirkham open prison – but failed to go back in September 2000.

Newby was arrested when he was found to be almost twice the drink-drive limit near Wrexham on Friday night.

His solicitor Phillip Lloyd Jones told a court that at the time he had been very disappointed not to be granted parole more than half way through a five-year prison sentence for assault.

The probation service had said that he was likely to re-offend.

But Mr Jones said his client had proved them wrong and he had remained trouble free over the years until his arrest for

Mr Jones told Flintshire Magistrates’ Court yesterday that Newby, of Berrywood Close at Duston, Northampton, now faced the prospect of serving the remainder of the sentence imposed when he was a much younger man.

Magistrates told Newby that their hands were tied and he was jailed for six months for failing to return to prison after temporary leave in September 2000, and driving with 68 microgrammes of alcohol in his breath, compared to the legal limit of 35, while driving a silver Mercedes at High Street, Ruabon.

He was banned from driving for 17 months and ordered to pay a £115 surcharge.

Prosecutor Helen Tench said that just before midnight on July 14 police saw the Mercedes hit the kerb and it appeared to be “all over the road.”

He was sleepy and smelt of intoxicants and initially gave police a false name. When pressed he refused to provide his details.

The following morning he provided his correct details and a PNC check showed that he had failed to return to Kirkham Prison after temporary home leave in September 2000.

Mr Jones said his client had received a five year sentence for assault by the crown court locally.

He had time to reflect, he followed courses regarding his behaviour – temper control and the like – and was progressing extremely well.

The defendant did not have any difficulties whatsoever and anticipated that he would be released on parole after he had served two years and 10 months of the sentence.

“Expectations were extremely high,” he said.

He was bitterly disappointed to find that a probation officer recommended that he should not be paroled because he was a risk of re-offending.

“That hit him quite hard indeed,” he said.

At that stage he was transferred to Kirkham open prison and given home leave.

“He was allowed home and he did not return,” the lawyer explained.

“It was an impulsive act.”

He was aggrieved and angry at not being paroled at that stage and took it upon himself to remain “on the run for the last 17 years.”

And he added: “Notwithstanding the view of the probation service, he was able to carry out his life without re-offending.”

On Friday he returned to the Wrexham area, bumped into some old friends, had a few drinks and ended up having three or four pints.

His manner of driving attracted the attention of the police and he was arrested – and thankfully after initial panic provided is correct details.

Since his release, he had become a father and had been able to remain out of trouble.

But he now faced the potential of another two years and two months in custody in order to serve the remainder of the original sentence.

Magistrates said their hands were tied.