Drink driver wrote off Alfa Romeo in house party smash, Durham court told

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A DRINK driver wrote off his friend’s Alfa Romeo and damaged four other vehicles in an early-morning crash.

Durham Crown Court heard James Lowrie, of Moor House Farm, Rainton Gate, took to the wheel to take someone home from a house party.

“The party was at a house in Brandon,” said Bob Spragg, prosecuting. “One of the guests fell ill and the defendant borrowed an Alfa Romeo Mito, which had been driven to the party by another guest.

“It appears the journey passed without incident, but when Lowrie returned he got into an argument with his girlfriend who did not like him drink driving.

“By this time it was about 4.45am and Lowrie took off in the Alfa again.”

The court heard he lost control of the car in New Brancepeth, causing damage to a Citroën, a Land Rover, a Peugeot and a works van.

“He fled the scene and returned to the house,” added Mr Spragg. “He apologised to the owner of the Alfa and remained at the house until police arrived. The Alfa was later written off, the owners of the other vehicles all say they suffered a lot of inconvenience. Some lost money due to insurance pay-outs, which were lower than expected.”

Lowrie, 20, admitted three charges of criminal damage, damaging property, drink driving, driving without a licence, driving without insurance, and failing to stop after an accident.

A charge of aggravated vehicle taking was ordered to lie on the file.

“Lowrie claims he had permission to drive the car,” said Mr Spragg. “The Crown do not accept that, but it is likely the vehicle taking would make little difference to the overall sentence.”

Christopher Rose, mitigating, said: “Mr Lowrie is of previous good character.

“His remorse is genuine and was immediate, and he co-operated fully with the police.”

Recorder Graham Hyland sentenced Lowrie to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, a 12-month supervision order, and a 12-month driving ban.