A GREENOCK businessman offered to pay a driving offences fine at a rate equivalent to £7.50-a-week — because he's in shop rent arrears of over £15,000.

Sajid Rafique — who has racked up six road traffic convictions — was ordered to stump up £360 after flouting a driving ban in his BMW 5 Series car.

The 41-year-old Nicolson Street shopkeeper, who lives in the southside of Glasgow, asked for nearly a year to pay the fine off at a rate of £30 per month.

His lawyer, Gerry Keenan, told Greenock Sheriff Court: "The rental on his premises is £17,000 in arrears."

According to a pre-sentencing background report Rafique stated that he'd 'completely forgotten' that he'd been disqualified from driving for six months.

But he told the court that he took the wheel of the car after his wife had received 'distressing' news about her mother's health in a phone call.

Mr Keenan said: "Contrary to the background report, he says he did not completely forget that he was disqualified.

"The journey from the southside of Glasgow to Greenock was undertaken with his wife driving initially.

"What appears to have happened during the course of the journey is that his wife received a phone call, having already been aware of a diagnosis of serious illness with her mother.

"The call was to advise of a deterioration in her health.

"She advises me that she was seriously distressed and pulled the car over at Port Glasgow.

"These are the circumstances as described to me."

But Mr Keenan acknowledged that Rafique had 'no excuse' for driving the car and could have taken a cab or public transport.

A CCTV operator spotted Rafique getting out of the driver's side of the BMW on Nicolson Street on February 28.

Sheriff Linda Smith ordered him to pay the fine at a rate of £50 per month.

She also ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work within nine months and banned him from driving for a further five months.