Sunderland motorist with 'shocking' driving record back in jail just months after being released for previous offences
A Wearside man with a “shocking” motoring record has been jailed after refusing to be breath tested when suspected of being over the limit and behind the wheel.
John Campbell, 53, of Fulwell Road, Roker, was found hiding 150 metres from an abandoned Mitsubishi discovered by police hunting a suspected drink-driver.
The car’s key was located midway between the motor and cowering Campbell – and it opened the lock when officers put it to the test, a court heard.
His mobile phone was also found inside the black vehicle which crashed at 5am in Wessington Way, near the A19, Sunderland, on Wednesday, March 17.
Despite his apparent link to the car, prosecutors could not prove he had been driving and he faced no charge relating to that.
But he repeatedly refused to provide a breath sample, required by law – and swore at officers in doing so, magistrates in South Tyneside heard.
They were told Campbell was jailed for 42 weeks last June for a string of motoring offences, including drink-driving and driving while banned.
He was freed on licence on August 8, and was also disqualified from driving at the time of his latest offence.
Magistrates have now jailed him for 12 weeks after taking into account his early guilty plea to a charge of failing to provide a sample for analysis.
Prosecutor Lesley Burgess said: “In the early hours of Wednesday, the police attend an area of Sunderland after a report of a road traffic accident.
“The vehicle was partly on the highway and partly across the verge of the footpath.
“A member of the public pointed officers in the direction of where the driver had made off. They found the defendant about 150 metres away.
“Police found the key between the car and the vehicle. They opened the car, and found his mobile phone in the vehicle.
“An interview took place and he refused to answer questions, but he has pleaded guilty.”
Giving evidence of Campbell’s previous convictions, the Probation Service described his driving record as “shocking”.
Tom Morgan, defending, said: “He’s undoubtedly a man with a record of like-offences.
“He really has an extremely limited recollection of what has taken place. He wishes he had provided a sample.
“The defendant has gone through a string of significant bereavements of late and spends a lot of time just walking the streets. I think he’s quite a lonely man from his losses.
“He appreciates the situation that he’s in. He needs a routine. He’s keen to try to sort his life out, and he wants the court to give him a chance.”
Magistrates rejected Mr Morgan’s appeal for Campbell to retain his freedom and instead sent him into custody.
They also banned him for a further 36 months, which will start the day he leaves prison and will keep him off the roads until April 28, 2024.
He must also pay a £128 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.
After the case, Sergeant Dave Roberts from Northumbria Police’s motor patrols said: “There is never an excuse for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It can cause serious harm and have fatal consequences.