Drink-driver fled after hitting house

STEPHEN PULLINGER A drink-driver who lost control of his car and careered into the wall of a house panicked and ran off, abandoning his stunned female passenger, a court heard.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

A drink-driver who lost control of his car and careered into the wall of a house panicked and ran off, abandoning his stunned female passenger, a court heard.

The crash fractured a gas main and caused the evacuation of part of Gorleston High Street because of concerns for the safety of local residents, magistrates were told.

Gavin Sweeby, 28, of Elm Avenue, Gorleston, admitted driving with excess alcohol, failing to stop after an accident and driving with no insurance when he appeared before Yarmouth magistrates yesterday.

He was banned from driving for three years, to be reduced to 27 months if he carries out a drink-driving rehabilitation course, and given a community penalty of 50 hours of unpaid work.

Gary Mayle, prosecuting, said the drama unfolded at about 7.45pm last Saturday evening when Sweeby was driving old friend Deborah Beresford home after meeting her in the Feathers, in Gorleston High Street, and going on to another local pub.

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After clipping the kerb and smashing into the High Street home, causing serious damage, the car came to rest in neighbouring Trafalgar Road East.

A resident who saw Sweeby emerge from the car limping, challenged him but was told to mind his own business.

When Sweeby began running away, the resident chased him into nearby Priory Gardens but lost him.

Police arrived to find Ms Beresford still in the front passenger seat. She was taken to Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital with cuts and grazes.

Mr Mayle said police caught up with Sweeby in bed about two hours later, still smelling of alcohol, and he was arrested.

He later gave a positive breath test, recording 65 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, compared to the legal limit of 35 micrograms.

In an interview, he told police that he had gone to the Feathers to watch football and had been drinking Stella Artois.

He told police he had run off in a panic after the crash and deeply regretted what he had done.

Calvin Saker, in mitigation, told magistrates that Sweeby had transformed his life after settling down with his fiancée and having children.

He had successfully put behind him "considerable previous convictions" prior to 2000 and was now in full-time work, training as a roofer.

Mr Saker said: "This is a one-off incident that he regrets and he has not slept properly for the past four days. The care of his children is now the most important thing in his life.

"He went round to the house the following day to apologise and is prepared to offer compensation."