Four-time Ipswich drink-driving menace gets five-year ban but is spared prison

Inspector Julian Ditcham with the Drager Alcotest used by Suffolk Constabulary.

Inspector Julian Ditcham with the Drager Alcotest used by Suffolk Constabulary.

An Ipswich driving menace has been spared prison after his fourth drink-drive offence, and his second in two months.

Magistrates described Tony Houghton, of Levington Road, as a “serious danger” to the public after he collided with another car while more than twice the drink-drive limit.

The 38-year-old admitted driving with excess alcohol and careless driving when he appeared before South East Suffolk Magistrates in Ipswich.

It was also his second careless driving offence in two years, magistrates said.

Disqualifying Houghton from driving for five years, Diane Hunt, chairman of the bench told him: “You are a serious danger to the members of the public who are lawfully using the roads.

“We have looked at your driving record which is quite awful. Added to that you will not drive again until you have taken another driving test and that’s the only way we feel we can protect the public adequately.”

Houghton was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to undertake 160 hours’ unpaid work.

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The court was told Houghton had been given a 40-month driving ban on September 5 for another drink-drive offence.

That occurred after his arrest for the offences he was in court for on this occasion.

Magistrates were told Houghton also had also been convicted of drink-driving in 2014 and 2003.

During his latest court appearance he admitted being drunk at the wheel of a Seat Leon when crashing in Felixstowe Road, Nacton on August 24.

A subsequent blood test showed he had 182 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80mgs.

Prosecutor Lesla Small said Houghton had pulled out of a layby and hit a passing vehicle.

He struck the car with enough force that the driver of the other vehicle lost control and veered into parked vehicles in Felixstowe Road. However, no one was injured.

Houghton told police he thought the road was clear and it was safe to pull out of the layby. He added he had low blood sugar levels.

John Hughes, representing Houghton who runs a ground-working business, said his client had been through a traumatic year.

Houghton’s father had died, followed by the unexpected death of his 50-year-old brother .

The court was told in stressful and traumatic situations Houghton sought solace in alcohol.

Mr Hughes said: “Instead of seeking counselling he sought counsel through a bottle.”

Magistrates were told since his arrests he had decided to get counselling for his issues.

When asking a probation officer to prepare a pre-sentence report Mrs Hunt told her: “This particular defendant has got what can only be described as a shocking driving record.”

In addition to his driving ban and suspended prison term Houghton was ordered to pay a total of £640 in court charges and a fine.