Drink-driver had knuckleduster, open can of beer, and child on board when he crashed

A drink-driver who crashed into a bench and bollards with a young child in the passenger seat has been jailed, police have said.

Crashed car in Reed Pond Walk. Photo by Sussex Police.
Crashed car in Reed Pond Walk. Photo by Sussex Police.

James Steele, a mechanic, of Little Bentswood Close, Haywards Heath, was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment after the silver Volkswagen Golf he was driving destroyed the street furniture in Haywards Heath.

Police said they were called before 7pm on Saturday 18 June, to reports of a man seen driving with a can of beer in his hand and a child in the front seat.

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Officers said they discovered the vehicle wedged on top of a wooden bollard in Reed Pond Walk, Franklands Village.

Can of Stella and a knuckle duster found in car. Photo by Sussex Police.

Following a search of the car, a can of Stella and a knuckle duster were found, officers said.

PC Jo Fraser said: “We were called by members of the public, who stated they saw a man driving erratically with a beer in his hand and a child in the front.

“We arrived and spoke to a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver, who said he saw the Golf clip his vehicle and then clip a post on the side of the road. As the vehicle went around the corner he heard a loud bang, and he walked over to see the car had beached itself onto a post.

“The suspect was stood in front of the vehicle and as we approached him, he confirmed he was the driver. He was very unsteady on his feet, his eyes were glazed and he smelt of intoxicating liquor, and he was arrested.

Crashed car in Reed Pond Walk. Photo by Sussex Police.

“Due to his demeanour en route to custody, Steele remained handcuffed during the breath test process. He agreed to take part in the procedure but when required to give two specimens of breath, he initially sucked on the tube and then pretended to blow but only blew air into his own cheeks.”

The 27-year-old was subsequently charged with failing to provide a specimen for analysis and possession of an offensive weapon, police said.

He pleaded guilty at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (July 5) and was jailed for six weeks. He was also disqualified from driving for 24 months and ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

PC Fraser added: “Steele’s actions were completely irresponsible and his sentence demonstrates the seriousness of the crimes he committed.

“He managed to take out a bench and bollards in a built-up residential area despite driving slowly, and it’s worrying to think what could have happened had he been travelling at any speed.”

Steele’s conviction forms part of Operation Dragonfly, Surrey and Sussex Police’s summer crackdown on drink and drug-drivers.

People in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug driving or visit www.operationcrackdown.co.uk.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org)

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