Drink-driver crashed his car as he tried to take his own life

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A man who crashed his car while nearly three times over the drink limit as he tried to take his own life in a road accident, has been banned for almost two years.

Paul Hardy, 32, of Chapel Row, Houghton, was banned for 23 months at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, after he admitted driving while over the limit, without insurance and failing to stop after an accident.

Hardy was originally charged with driving with a breath test reading of 152 microgrammes of alcohol – more than four times the limit – but the bench accepted it was 92 micrograms due to the fact he was drinking after the accident. The limit is 35.

Prosecutor Andrea Pitt told the court that, at about 4pm on March 6 this year, Hardy had an argument with his wife and had gone into the garage to calm down.

The court heard he had drunk two small bottles of vodka and then drove his Toyota Rav4 car to his sister’s home, where he planned to say his goodbyes before taking his own life.

He later drove along South Street, Newbottle, where the collision occurred.

Ms Pitt said: “He pulled out of the junction and drove into a Nissan vehicle nearby. He stopped for a few moments and decided to drive home.

“He then realised what he had done and went back to the scene of the accident, which is 10 minutes from his address.

“He saw the officers on the street and told them immediately that it was he who had caused the damage.”

The court heard Hardy had damaged the Nissan and a Ford Focus in the collision and that he had bought more alcohol before returning to the scene.

Hardy was subsequently arrested and taken to the police station, where he was breathalysed.

“Hardy is a man of previous good character,” Ms Pitt said.

“The officers have taken the pragmatic view that Hardy was two-and-a half times over the limit.”

Paul McAlinden, defending, said Hardy was still making payments for his insurance and was not aware it was not valid.

He said Hardy had always maintained he had drunk before and after the collision, causing the breath test to give a high reading.

“The reason was that he had an argument with his wife,” Mr McAlinden said.

“At the time he was in a very low state of mind (and) was going to his sister’s to say his goodbyes.”

Mr McAlinden said the crash was an attempt to take his own life.

“He is a man who was clearly having some problems at the time,” Mr McAlinden said.

Hardy was sentenced to a 12-month community order consisting of 110 hours of unpaid work, he is disqualified from driving for 23 months and ordered to pay £85 costs.