Crash man took boss’s van

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A DRUNK-driver who crashed his boss’s van into a building after sinking 20 bottles of beer has been warned he could go to jail.

James Hedley stole the keys to the Transit van from behind the bar of Yankees, in Ocean Road, South Shields, after a night out on July 4.

The 23-year-old, who works at the nightspot, then drove the vehicle behind the street’s restaurants before crashing it into the back of the Asian Food Store, while the store’s owner looked on.

He told police he had drank 20 beers and vodka before heading to the bar at about 4am.

Hedley, of Troutbeck Way, South Shields, pleaded guilty to drink-driving, aggravated vehicle-taking and driving without insurance at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “The owner of the van parked it behind Yankees bar at 7pm the previous evening to this offence. It was not damaged at the time.

“The defendant went into the premises, where the keys were kept behind the bar.

“He took them, without permission from the owner, and drove the van at the back of Ocean Road.

“The owner of Asian Food Store, which is on Ocean Road, was looking out of a window and saw the van drive into the building.”

Mrs Beck said police arrived at the scene and found Mr Hedley on the street.

She added: “He was clearly intoxicated and the keys to the van were in his pocket.

“He said it was him in the van and said his boss didn’t know he had taken it.

“In his interview with police, he told them he had drank 20 bottles of lager and some vodka.

“The cost of repairing the damage to the building was £2,900 and the owner was quoted £1,500 to repair the van.”

The court heard Hedley has already been convicted of a similar offence

Laura Johnson, defending, said: “He was working at the bar at the time and the bar manager owns the van.

“He tells me he had been out drinking with a friend and for some unknown reason he went behind the bar, took the keys and decided to drive the van.

“The next thing he knows he has crashed into a building.”

Chairman of the bench Alan Rhys adjourned the case so the probation service could prepare a report about Hedley.

He said: “I’m asking for an all-options report.

“These offences taken individually warrant a community order, and there is a possibility you could be facing custody.

“You will also be disqualified from driving.”

Hedley will be back in front of magistrates on Monday to be sentenced.

He was given an interim driving disqualification and granted unconditional bail until then.

paul.clifford@northeast-press.co.uk