CONSERVATIVE councillor Dale Heenan has admitted driving without a tax disc and insurance.

The 27-year-old, of Emerson Close, Abbey Meads, admitted a charge of having no insurance, along with one of failing to display a tax disc.

He appeared at Swindon Magistrates' Court on Thursday, where it was also revealed that his tax had expired.

The offence happened on February 3, when Heenan, who is a councillor for Covingham and Nythe, was driving around the area.

Jo Marchant, prosecuting, said: "The police officers were on patrol in Swindon at 3.15pm when they stopped the defendant's car.

"Through inquiries with the defendant and a Police National Computer check it was discovered that he had no insurance.

"One of the officers then pointed out that the defendant did not have a tax disc. His reply was it must have dropped off."

Further PNC checks carried out by the officers revealed the tax disc for the car had expired.

Tony Nowogrodski, defending, said Heenan was remorseful about what had happened and the lack of insurance was down to a bank error.

"It is regrettable for him to be before the court as until now he had a clean driving licence, which he has held since 1997," he said.

"He had contacted his insurance company, who are a reputable firm, and they had indicated they would issue him with an insurance certificate.

"For whatever reason, the direct debit was cancelled and the premiums were not paid, so the company cancelled the policy. But he is mystified as to why this happened."

Mr Nowogrodski said it was a sad state of affairs.

"It has caused a great deal of embarrassment for him and his political party, as you can understand," he said.

During mitigation, the court also heard about the charity work carried out by Heenan, which included parachute jumps, sponsored swims and work for the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Chairwoman of the bench Rosemary McClaren said they had taken into account everything that had been said in court.

"You are not in the normal run of young men who appear before us for driving without insurance," she said.

"You were just negligent at noticing what was going on in your bank account.

"But I think you have probably learnt your lesson today.

"This has just been a blip on your radar, I am sure."

Heenan was fined £700 for not having insurance, £50 for failing to display a tax disk and ordered to pay £43 court costs. He also received six points on his driving licence.

'I didn't notice banking error'

SPEAKING outside the court Coun Heenan said his bank was investigating why the direct debit payments to the insurance company had been cancelled.

"Not displaying the tax disc was my mistake as it had fallen off," he said.

"I put my hands up to that, but it is something that could happen to anyone. Then it transpired that the direct debit for my insurance had been cancelled without anyone notifying me. My insurance and breakdown cover are with Norwich Union Direct, and each month I saw a Norwich Union direct debit on my statement. If I'd looked at the amount I'd have noticed.

"But it's a complete mystery what has happened and the bank is investigating it. It has been going on for three months and I still don't know how it happened."

He added: "I'm just glad it is all over. And it shows that I didn't do it intentionally, it was a mistake."