A man drove the wrong way around the Metrocentre one-way system after getting drunk at his office Christmas party.
Gary Baker, a pet shop worker faces losing his job after being spotted by the shopping centre’s CCTV operators at 2am, South Tyneside magistrates heard.
The 29-year-old, of Dilston Close, Oxclose, Washington, was apprehended on the A1 Western Bypass by police who lay in wait at Lobley Hill.
He was banned from driving for 22 months and fined £250, £85 costs and a £30 surcharge.
Laura Croft, prosecuting, said: “At 2am, a CCTV operator operator was alerted to a car going the wrong way around the one-way system, on St Michael’s Way outside the Metrocentre.
“It is driven all the way around and the wrong way around a roundabout before travelling along Scotswood View on the wrong side of the road past a bus stop.
When asked what consequences could have been, he said they could have been severe, someone could have been killedLaura Croft, prosecuting
“It then entered the A1 southbound where it disappeared from the CCTV operator’s view.
“The police had been contacted by the CCTV control room and officers waiting at Lobley Hill saw the red Fiat 500 drive past with no rear lights on, exceeding the 50mph limit.”
Ms Croft said police illuminated their blue lights and directed for the Fiat to pull over at the side of the road.
She added: “When the officer removed the key from the ignition, he noticed Baker smelt of alcohol.
“In interview he said he started drinking at 7.30pm and he thought he’d had three or four pints of Kronenbourg at his work’s Christmas party. He said he was on his way home.
“When asked what consequences could have been, he said they could have been severe, someone could have been killed.
“He said he had no reason for driving on the wrong side of the road. It borders on dangerous driving.”
Baker pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol and driving without due care and attention.
He had 71 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath.
Tim Gregory, defending, said: “He is a man who is extremely ashamed of his behaviour. He’s deeply sorry.
“It’s quite odd how someone, on the face of it so respectable, can behave in such a way. He had been to a Christmas party.”
Mr Gregory said Baker had asked his parents to pick him up after the party, but had decided to drive home for whatever reason.
He added: “It’s quite a prolonged period of dangerous driving.
“He lives at home with his mother and father. He was working for Pets at Home. I say was working because he lives in Washington and would need to get three buses to Kingston Park, which is not possible to get there for 6am.
“He may lose that employment as a result.”