Rochdale magistrates heard how a visitor from Lapland, Mr Nicholas Saint (1,747) created havoc in Rochdale with his erratic control over his team of excitable reindeer pulling a bright red sleigh.

He was subsequently found to be 247 times over the legal alcohol limit at nearly 8,500 micrograms of sherry-related alcohol per 100 ml of breath.

Police stated ‘Mr Saint is known to us under a number of aliases, including ‘Father Chris Muss’; ‘Santa Claus’, ‘Noel Greetings’ and ‘Gordon Wolstenholme’. We have had previous reports of his behaviour but have failed to catch him in the past. Not least because with his red robe and patently false white wig many of our officers believed him to be a High Court judge.”

It is thought the sleigh was also in an unskyworthy condition, with illegal tread on its runners and failing to display the required red light to the front, due to the lead reindeer’s nose having blown.

Passing sentence of 2.500 hours of community work, with no assistance from any little helpers, Chief Magistrate Emily Puttocks told Mr Saint ‘We hope this sentence will stop you being naughty.’