Mum banned after pub crash

A young mother who crashed a car through the front wall of a historic pub late at night has been banned from driving for 16 months.

A young mother who crashed a car through the front wall of a historic pub late at night has been banned from driving for 16 months.

After smashing the Vauxhall Astra into the Swan Inn at Ingham, near Stalham, Michelle Smith fled the scene but then 15 minutes later telephoned the police to say she had caused the accident and had been drinking.

The crash on May 16 showered the 700-year-old building's dining room with debris and left a gaping hole in its front wall, which has caused the landlords to lose up to £2,000 in custom.

Smith, 21, from Allen Meale Way, Stalham, was handed her driving ban and a £140 fine after she admitted drink driving at Cromer magistrates court today.

Magistrates heard the mother of two, who only has a provisional licence, had got behind the wheel of the car because her husband and a friend needed a lift after their car ran out of petrol.

Fergus Harold, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was driving the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. At around midnight the vehicle she was driving crashed through the front wall of the Swan public house.”

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The parents-in-law of the Swan Inn's landlord, Paul Thomas, were the only ones in the pub at the time of the collision and the pair said they were terrified when the heard the loud bang of the car smashing into the building.

Smith then left the scene of the accident but called police 15 minutes later to say she was the driver of the car and had been drink-driving.

Her alcohol breath test, taken two and half hours after the accident, showed she had 41 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of alcohol in her breath - the legal limit being 35 microgrammes.

Magistrates were told Smith, who suffers from depression and has a long-term disability, recognised she had a drink problem. Since the crash she had contacted her doctor and the drug and alcohol charity Norcas to seek help with her problem.

Edward Bell, in mitigation, said: “She could not have been more frank with the prosecuting authorities.”

Sections of the Swan Inn, which used to be part of the Ingham Priory, are still covered by hoardings and fencing while repair work is being carried out. The pub is still open but the damage has meant it cannot serve as many diners as it used to.

After hearing Smith's sentence, Mr Thomas said: “It just does not seem a fit enough punishment to me. She has caused a lot of damage to a 700-year-old building and has seriously affected our trade.”

Smith also pleaded guilty to driving without a licence, having no insurance and MoT. She was also ordered to pay costs of £20.

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