Police said drink drive soldier was “open and honest”, court hears

Bury Magistrates Court.

Bury Magistrates Court. - Credit: Archant

A soldier who crashed his car after a night out with friends was arrested for drink driving after he stayed to help police to clear up the scene, a court heard.

Richard Hooper, 24, was driving along Compeigne Way in Bury St Edmunds in the early hours when he lost control of his car and spun into the central reservation.

The RAF serviceman was praised by police after he helped officers to clear up the scene, but he later blew a positive breath test and was arrested for drink driving.

Hooper, of RAF Honington, appeared at West Suffolk Magistrates Court on Monday, April 11 and pleaded guilty to the charge.

Prosecuting, Colette Harper said Hooper had been on his way back to RAF Honington after seeing friends when the crash happened on Sunday, March 20.

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The Volkswagen Polo he was driving sustained 'substantial damage' and debris was scattered across a nearby field and the other carriageway.

He sustained minor injuries in the crash which required hospital treatment, said Mrs Harper.

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Defending himself, Hooper said he 'couldn't apologise enough' for what had happened.

'I've lost my car, I've embarrassed myself, and I'm in trouble with the air force as well,' he said.

The recruitment advisor believed he had crashed because he was distracted by a 'sticky situation' with a friend.

'I was trying to help a friend and I was thinking about her,' he said. 'After I crashed I couldn't believe what had happened.'

Hooper said he called the police and started marshalling traffic, then helped officers to cleaned up the scene.

He told police he had not had a drink since around 6pm, but was breath-tested at 3.10am and blew a reading of 47 micrograms in 100ml of breath – over the legal limit of 35 micrograms.

'Maybe I as a bit naive, I didn't understand how little it took to be over the limit,' he said.

Magistrate Lauren Line said: 'I have never heard a police officer speak so highly of someone they had picked up for drink driving before. We understand what he said about you being open and honest.

'This was obviously a moment of madness, and I'm sure you will know better in the future about how much you cannot drink before getting behind the wheel of a car.'

Hooper was given a 12-month driving ban, with the opportunity to reduce the disqualification by three months if he successfully completes a drink drive rehabilitation course.

He was also fined £370 and ordered to pay a £37 victim surcharge and £85 towards the prosecution costs.

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