Drink-driver hit off-duty policeman’s car – then pushed him and tried to flee

GV of the approach to the A19 roundabout taken from A1231, Sunderland Highway.
GV of the approach to the A19 roundabout taken from A1231, Sunderland Highway.
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A drink-driver pushed an injured police officer out of the way and tried to flee the scene after a crash on a busy Wearside road.

Martin Turnbull, 22, crashed into the back of the off-duty officer’s car, writing it off, on the A1231 Sunderland Highway on November 1.

He’s not been thinking straight since his father was tragically killed in a road traffic collision. He doesn’t know why he has driven this vehicle when he has no licence or insurance

Ian Palmer, defending

Sunderland magistrates heard Turnbull, who does not have a driving licence or insurance, tried to flee the scene of the high-speed smash, and that he had not been “thinking straight” since his father was killed in a road accident.

The bench heard how the force of the collision left an off-duty officer showered in glass and his injuries forced him to take sick leave for the first time in his 15-year career.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “On November 1, Pc Brian Collins had been to work at Washington police station. He had left work and was on his way home.

“The road was dark and it was a bit damp and wet and he was travelling at between 60 and 65mph when he saw headlights behind him as he was heading towards the A19.

“The next thing he heard was a bang and his car spun in a clockwise direction.

“The driver’s door window shattered over him and he skidded to a stop on the chevrons on the A1231.”

Mr Anderson said Pc Collins saw Turnbull get out of the driver’s seat of his silver Peugeot 206, followed by two females who were also in the vehicle.

When Turnbull returned to the car a short time later to retrieve his phone, Pc Collins shouted: “I’m police. I’m police. The defendant pushed him and tried to get away from him,” Mr Anderson added.

Pc Collins phoned 999 and officers arrived to arrest Turnbull, who had 62 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath – the legal limit being 35.

“Of course, he’s got no insurance, no licence,” Mr Anderson said.

“He accepted he didn’t stop when he should have done. He said he had bought the car very recently for £500.”

Pc Collins suffered cuts and scratches and pain in his neck and back and his car was written off.

“As a result of the crash he has some swelling to his back and neck and some reduced movement,” Mr Anderson added.

“He said that after 15 years in the service he was disappointed that he had to take sickleave for the first time in his career.”

Turnbull, of Waterloo Walk, Sulgrave, Washington, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol, failure to stop after an accident, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and driving without third-party insurance.

He has one previous conviction as a youth for shop theft and drunk and disorderly, the court heard.

Ian Palmer, defending, said: “After school, he’s managed to get into work straight away.

“Other than this incident it is clear evidence that work does keep people out of bother.

“He’s not been thinking straight since his father was tragically killed in a road traffic collision.

“He doesn’t know why he has driven this vehicle when he has no licence or insurance.”

Bench chairman Vincent Lamb said: “These offences are so serious that we need to ask probation for a report and we will not tie the next bench’s hands, and it will be an all-options report.”

The bench made an interim driving disqualification, Turnbull will be sentenced on January 11.