Sunderland drink-driver nearly took out police officer in crash

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A DRUNK driver smashed into two cars which had been in an accident and narrowly missed their drivers.

Neil Downs ploughed into the Vauxhall Vectra and Seat Ibiza near Tunstall Road in Sunderland after spinning on oil on the road.

The drivers of those cars and a police officer had to run out of the way to avoid being knocked over by his Citroën Saxo.

When he finally came to a stop, Downs, of Lakeside, Sunderland, was arrested after failing a breath test.

He pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol at the city’s magistrates’ court.

Janice Bellamy, prosecuting, told the court the officer at the scene saw Downs coming towards him at about 7.20pm on November 2.

She said: “The brakes locked up, the driver lost control and spun directly towards where the officer and those involved in the accident were 

“They had to run to avoid the Citroën. He missed the people involved in the accident by a metre.

“He tried to start the engine and the officer ran over towards him. He saw there was a female passenger in the front passenger seat and noticed the defendant appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.”

The court heard a breath test showed Downs had 67mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit being 35mg.

Mrs Bellamy also said he had previous convictions for drink driving from 2000 and 

Susan Grey, defending, said those charges dated back to when he was a youth. She added: “He was running around with a crowd that were taking cars.

“He is an adult now and has come a long way and it is not behaviour he would ever 

“He had something to drink with his girlfriend and was taking her home, a distance of about three miles.

“Bear in mind, he has not been charged with careless driving. It was because of the accident, which had already taken place on the Hope Bank, and the amount of oil on the road. He was fully insured and had a full licence.”

Mrs Grey added Downs had since given up his job as a driver with Guardian Motors Group.

Magistrates banned him from driving for 17 months and fined him £110 with a £20 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.