Ipswich drink-driver left 400 homes without power after hitting substation and cemetery wall

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

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

A 52-year-old drink-driver who hit a cemetery wall before leaving 400 homes without power after hitting a sub station has been banned from driving for 20 months.

Magistrates heard Tina Thomas, of Colchester Road, Ipswich, caused damage totalling £10,500 to a UK Power Networks transformer and a further £1,000 damage to the town’s Millennium Cemetery office wall in Tuddenham Road.

The accident occurred while Thomas was more than twice the drink-drive limit on June 15.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablett said a police constable was driving along Woodbridge Road at 11.15pm when they saw a learner driver had pulled to the side of the road with their hazard warning lights on. In front of their vehicle was a Saab driven by Thomas which had come off the road and gone into a bramble bush.

When the officer spoke to Thomas and asked if she was ok, Thomas said she had meant to crash the vehicle and that she would be over the drink-drive limit, the court was told.

A roadside breath test showed a positive reading and a subsequent test on an intoximeter recorded Thomas had 83 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Mr Ablett said after Thomas’ roadside breath test a call was received from UK Power Networks stating a vehicle had crashed into a sub station earlier in the evening.

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The transformer was destroyed and caused 415 homes to lose power that night. A temporary generator was put in place until a permanent repair could be made.

A second phone call was received to state there was damage to the Millennium Cemetery office wall, a few metres away. A vehicle had scraped along it and caused damage to electric cables.

A bumper had been left at the scene, along with a registration plate from Thomas’ Saab.

Russell Butcher, representing Thomas, said his client suffered from mental health issues and was troubled on the day of the offence.

Magistrates adjourned the matter for a fast track pre-sentence report from the probation service.

After the case returned to court Thomas was disqualified from driving and given a 12-month community order during which she must comply with an alcohol treatment programme.

In addition Thomas must also pay £85 costs and £85 to the victims’ fund.