A learner driver “away with the fairies” on drink

Case: Preston Crown Court
Case: Preston Crown Court
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A learner driver led police on an 80mph chase along Blackpool’s Golden Mile while “away with the fairies” on drink, a court was told.

John Jones reached more than 80mph in the early hours while a lot of revellers were still in the area, some of them heavily drunk.

Preston Crown Court heard the defendant could not recall much of what happened and was someone who had suffered agoraphobia, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. He was also said to have lost friends through drink driving incidents.

The 29-year-old pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol and not having a driving licence or insurance.

He was spotted by police in the Abingdon Street area after 2am one morning last October.

Hilary Banks, prosecuting, said police were in an Operational Support Unit carrier and wanted to speak to the defendant, who was driving a Punto car. However, he tried to drive past them.

An officer tried to flag him down, but Jones turned violently at speed, making contact with the vehicle

The Punto, with two people on board, then went on to the Prom at high speed and was pursued by police operating blue lights and sirens.

It was thought the Punto reached more than 80mph.

Mrs Banks told the court: “The area was still heavily populated with members of the public.

“Some of them appeared to be heavily under the influence of drink”.

Police turned off their emergency equipment. Jones pulled over, a struggle took place and he was detained. His speech was slurred, the court was told.

He had a breath alcohol reading that was more than twice the legal limit. It became apparent that he only had a provisional licence.

Nick Kennedy, defending, said: “He is extremely remorseful. He became physically distressed when spoken to by a probation officer. He has lost friends through drink driving incidents.”

Jones, from Avon Street, Barnsley, Yorkshire, could not remember much about what happened at the time.

“He didn’t particularly want to go to Blackpool”, added Mr Kennedy.

“He suffers from agoraphobia and has a history of anxiety, with depression and panic attacks.

“There was a deterioration in his mental state last October.”

Jones was given a total of 12 months prison, suspended for two years, with 12 months court supervision, 150 hours unpaid work and a three month curfew to operate from 9pm-6am.

He was also banned from driving for three years.

The judge, Recorder Chris Hudson, told him: “It was two o’clock in the morning. You were away with the fairies on drink and driving down the Prom, where other drunken people were.

“If anybody had stepped into the road one wonders how easy you would have found it to stop. It is perhaps fortunate you are not facing other matters.

“This is an expensive frolic down the Prom.”