Unqualified driver banned after crashing step-mum’s car through garden wall

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A woman has been banned from the roads for 12 months despite never having a driving licence after she crashed a car through a garden wall.

Dawn Bartley, 23, took the keys to the Citroen Picasso, belonging to her father’s partner, but managed to drive only metres to the opposite side of Side Cliff Road, Roker, before colliding with a neighbour’s property, Sunderland magistrates heard.

She doesn’t know how to drive a vehicle, she has never held a licence. She has no idea, to this day, what prompted her to take the car. There was no attempt to drive any distance. This happened at 3am after she had been drinking.

Defence solicitor Mark Humble

Prosecutor Andrea Pitt said a witness looked out the window at 3am on March 22, to see the “slightly unusual” events unfold.

The court heard that Bartley, at the time of the offence, was living with her father and his partner, and she had parked her car outside the previous evening.

“A neighbour says she was woken by the sound of a car horn blaring and looked outside of her property,” Miss Pitt said.

“A person was sitting in the driver’s seat trying to trying to turn the steering wheel. The car started lurching forwards and grinding its gears and the windscreen wipers were going. She contacted police.”

She added: “The vehicle then sped off onto the opposite side of the road, crashing into a property, knocking down a brick wall. A second witness heard the commotion.

“He saw Bartley exit the vehicle. She looked spaced-out and was stumbling, trying to get back in the driver’s seat.

“The witness reached in and grabbed the car keys. There was something of a struggle and at this point the key snapped in the ignition.”

Bartley was arrested and taken to the police station, where she showed signs of intoxication, the court was told.

Her speech was slurred and she was unsteady on her feet. However, she refused to take a breathalyser test.

Bartley, of Swan Street, Southwick, admitted aggravated vehicle taking, failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis, driving without a licence, and having no insurance.

“This was a one-off offence,” Mark Humble, defending, said. “She doesn’t know how to drive a vehicle, she has never held a licence. She has no idea, to this day, what prompted her to take the car. There was no attempt to drive any distance. This happened at 3am after she had been drinking.

“Fortunately the only thing damaged was a wall. Miss Bartley’s father has paid the full cost of the wall and it has been repaired.

“The car has also been repaired at the expense of Miss Bartley’s father, and she is repaying him in instalments. She is completely remorseful and ashamed by her behaviour.”

Bartley was given a one year community order and driving ban.

She was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay a £150 criminal courts charge and a £60 surcharge.