Ex-serviceman caught drink-driving after tidying up around a war memorial

King's Lynn magistrates court/crown court Picture: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn magistrates court - Credit: Chris Bishop

An ex-military man who has struggled to adapt to civilian life was caught drink-driving after clearing up around a war memorial, a court was told.

King's Lynn magistrates heard David Crooke, 51, had been for a drink after tidying up around the memorial in Swaffham.

Police were later called to the A47 near the town after Crooke crashed his Nissan Qashqai into a ditch.

Following his arrest, he blew 78 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Prosecutor Jacqui Dankyi said: “In interview, he admitted to having drunk four pints of beer.

“There were cans of beer found in his vehicle and in the surrounding area as well.”

Crooke, of Fincham Road, Barton Bendish, pleaded guilty to drink-driving on December 13 last year.

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The court was told that he had a previous excess alcohol conviction in 2011, which was outside the 10-year period for higher sentencing.

In mitigation solicitor Ruth Johnson said the ex-serviceman had been returning from Christmas shopping when he stopped at the war memorial to clear it of rubbish and leaves.

The court was told that he felt “guilt” at not having been to a remembrance service last year.

“He did what he could to clear the Cenotaph and make it presentable. He then went for a drink,” said Miss Johnson.

She told the hearing that he had joined the armed forces at 16 and had served in “99 per cent” of the conflict zones.

“He himself was involved in incredibly significant and traumatic incidents. He’s found it very difficult to adjust himself into civvy street and returned to Afghanistan as a civilian,” said Miss Johnson.

She added that he suffers from night-time terrors and was now receiving support for his wellbeing and alcohol problems.

Crooke said he was likely to lose his job on a military estate near Thetford as a result of the mandatory ban.

He was disqualified from driving for 18 months, which can be cut with completion of a drink-driver rehabilitation course.

He was also fined £300 and ordered to pay a £34 victim surcharge.

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