Drink driver keeps licence

A DRINK driver has narrowly avoided losing his licence after being led astray by his friends.A court heard that he felt intimidated by his “nightmarish mates” who jumped on his van and drove it around a car park.

A DRINK driver has narrowly avoided losing his licence after being led astray by his friends.

A court heard that he felt intimidated by his “nightmarish mates” who jumped on his van and drove it around a car park. He had only driven it back into a parking space.

James Theobald had “special reasons” for driving his van just a few feet, South East Suffolk Magistrates found.

Shini Cooksley, prosecuting, said 22-year-old Theobald had parked his van in the William Street car park near Crown Pools before embarking on a night out with his friends on January 4.

The court heard that Theobald, of Tuddenham Lane, Rushmere, had gone into town at 7.30pm, met up with three friends and ended up at Pals Nightclub until 1.30am.

Theobald explained to magistrates that he only took £20 in cash with him so he would not spend too much. However at 1.30am he wanted some food, a cigarette and a taxi home so he had returned to his van where he had left his bankcard and tobacco.

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He said he had sat in the passenger seat smoking a cigarette when his friends turned up.

Shaun Bird hopped into the driver seat and started the engine. Their other two friends climbed in the back of the van and Bird, 21, of Ipswich, took the van for a joy ride around the car park.

Theobald then reversed the van back into a parking space.

One of their friends Adam Vincent, then climbed on to the roof of the van and Bird managed to take charge of the vehicle again.

He drove forwards and backwards in and out of the space about five times trying to shake Mr Vincent off the roof.

Magistrates watched CCTV footage of the entire incident which showed Mr Vincent dancing topless in the car park, climbing on the van and hanging upside down looking through the windscreen while Bird drove backwards and forwards.

Bird had 49 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. Theobald had 68 micrograms of alcohol in his breath. The legal limit is 35.

At a previous hearing Bird pleaded guilty to drink driving, dangerous driving and to having no insurance. He was fined £100, £250 and £150 respectively.

He was disqualified from driving for 12 months the court heard.

Theobald, who pleaded guilty to drink driving and to letting an uninsured driver drive his vehicle, said: “I know I should have done more to stop them but when they get together they are a nightmare. Without getting angry and physical with them what could I do? They are my friends.”

Magistrates fined Theobald a total of £450 and told him to pay £87 towards court costs.

Ten penalty points were added to his clean licence and Theobald was warned: “Just one speeding offence and you've lost your licence.”

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