A DELIVERY driver caught behind the wheel after taking heroin claimed he needed the drugs to treat a sore mouth.

Paul Black was described in court as a “persistent road traffic offender” when he appeared before Sheriff Simon Pender on Friday.

Black, 50, had previously admitted being unfit to drive in the course of a journey from New Street, Duntocher, to Pappert in Bonhill on March 30.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard police showed up at Black’s home in Pappert in time to see him getting out of the driver’s seat.

He was held and a search was carried out. A bag containing brown powder, which police thought might be heroin, was found in the boot.

Black was shaky on his feet and he was arrested and taken to Clydebank police office.

The powder was found to be 1.8g of diamorphine with a street value of £70. He was not cautioned and charged at the time.

Black’s defence solicitor Lauren Kerr said: “He is gutted he has found himself in this position.”

Sheriff Pender pointed out that Black’s conviction was his second for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

Ms Kerr said: “The previous offence is 20 years old. He feels disappointed to be in this position again.

“He was working as a delivery driver. His employer said he would keep the job open for a period of time, but not necessarily for as long as the disqualification given today.”

Ms Kerr explained that her client had got the drugs to help him deal with a pain in his mouth.

Sheriff Pender replied: “He doesn’t need heroin. Did he try paracetamol? There are stronger medicines.”

Ms Kerr explained Black had previously had an addiction and didn’t want to go back there.

She said: “He has a terrible record for road traffic offences but his previous offence was some time ago. In respect to this offence, this isn’t something that he regularly engages in.

“He has been honest and frank with social work and realises the severity of this situation.”

Sheriff Pender replied: “He is a persistent road traffic offender and nothing seems to deter him.”

Black also pleaded guilty to being in possession of the controlled drug diamorphine on March 30.

Sheriff Pender made clear that a community-based sentence would be the only discount Black would receive as credit for his early pleas of guilty.

He said: “You have come perilously close to custody but with considerable hesitation given your record I am willing to deal with you by way of community payback.

“This is a direct alternative to custody, which is what you can expect if you don’t comply.”

Black was put under supervision for 18 months and must carry out 300 hours unpaid work.