Ipswich: Man, 20, who took dad’s BMW and crashed it into shop before fleeing was learning to drive, court hears

A 20-year-old man learning to drive sneaked into his dads BMW and crashed it into a shop before he

A 20-year-old man learning to drive sneaked into his dads BMW and crashed it into a shop before he panicked and fled the scene, a court heard. - Credit: Archant

A 20-year-old man learning to drive sneaked into his dad’s BMW and crashed it into a shop before he “panicked” and fled the scene, a court heard.

Ashley Baker, of Sheldrake Drive, Ipswich, has been banned from driving for six months after damaging the front of a Premier Stores outlet in Greenfinch Avenue, on the town’s Chantry estate, at around 4am on October 6.

Magistrates heard the silver BMW, discovered around a mile away from the shop by police, was written off after it sustained “substantial damage”.

Baker pleaded guilty to five charges, including careless driving, before he was spared jail at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Dino Barricella, mitigating for Baker, admitted the “temptation of driving a BMW” had “gotten the better” of his client.

“He was another young man learning to drive who decided for whatever reason to take the BMW,” he said.

“It was too powerful and he lost control at the scene. He panicked and fled. He knows it was wrong. He is genuinely sorry for his actions. His father has forgiven him.”

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The court was told that Baker, currently claiming job seeker’s allowance, was taking driving lessons at the time of the accident.

Residents reported being awoken by a loud bang before police arrived on the scene and put a cordon in place.

Fire crews and workers from gas and electricity companies were also called due to a strong smell of gas.

Investigating officers originally believed the incident could have been an attempted ram raid.

Baker and a 44-year-old man were initially arrested on suspicion of burglary the morning after the incident but police later confirmed no burglary charges were to be brought and the 44-year-old told he faced no further action.

Baker pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention, driving with no licence, driving without insurance and failing to stop/report a road traffic collision.

Prosecutor Ian Devine said there was “no suggestion” that the incident was an attempted ram raid.

“He has simply gone off the road (following) a poor piece of driving,” he said.

“He had no licence and had no insurance to drive.”

He said the front number plate of the BMW discovered at the scene and traces of DNA found on an airbag in the BMW led to the arrest of Baker.

The court was also told that the shop had sustained damage to its shutters at the front of the store.

In addition to disqualifying Baker from driving for six months, district judge Cecilia Dawson fined him a total of £160.

He must pay a £20 victim surcharge and was also ordered to pay £85 costs.