Care home resident’s lucky escape

The damage
The damage
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A CARE home resident narrowly escaped being seriously hurt when a joyrider crashed into a wall and sent a breeze block flying into his room.

The man was in his bedroom at West Villas Care Home in Hartlepool when Sam Brownless mounted the pavement and smashed into the wall in the middle of the night.

Rubble was sent hurtling into the resident’s room, and the impact of the crash caused his bed to move across the floor. Luckily the man, thought to be in his early 50s, had just got out of bed to go to the toilet moments earlier.

Brownless had been drinking with pals last Christmas Eve when he took the keys to a Citroen DS3 from a friend’s flat and drove off.

He was soon arrested and admitted aggravated vehicle taking, driving without insurance and not in accordance with a licence.

The 21-year-old was given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years, 18 months probation and 200 hours community work at Teesside Crown Court.

He was also banned from driving for two years and given a curfew between 8pm and 6am.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, at Teesside Crown Court, said: “What transpires is at approximately 3.20am the defendant drove the vehicle and lost control of it on Wells Avenue and Warren Road in Hartlepool.

“It collided with a 6ft wooden fence, destroying it, but continued into the wall of West Villas Care Home.

“A resident had just got up to go to the toilet.

“The bed moved across the room. A breeze block landed on the bed close to where the man had been sitting.

“The defendant reversed out before fleeing the scene.”

Brownless, of Romaine Park, Hartlepool, was seen in the car at the petrol station on Easington Road, Hartlepool, at 5am.

The damaged car was later found abandoned on a footpath with a can of lager inside.

Two metal posts had to be installed at the home, which is owned by care company Voyage and cares for adults with learning and physical disabilities, amid fears the roof could collapse.

Brownless was arrested at around 10.40am on Christmas Eve but said he could not remember what happened.

It emerged in court that in 2009 Brownless also took his parents’ brand new Audi and crashed it.

Paul Cleasby, mitigating, said drinking too much because of a personal matter was to blame for Brownless’s offending.

Mr Cleasby said: “His record shows he is not someone who is always in and out of trouble.

“It’s fortunate for Mr Brownless that nobody was injured.

“The householder had gone to use the bathroom so happily he was not where he would otherwise have been.”

Judge Tony Briggs said sending Brownless to prison immediately would mean he would not get the help he needs from the Probation Service.

He added: “I have to weigh up the obvious fact this is serious and deserves prison with the long-term public good of you staying out of trouble.”

Commenting on the incident, Karen Harkin, operations director for Voyage Care, said: “The safety and wellbeing of the people we support is always our number one priority.

“Thankfully, none of the residents or staff at West Villas were injured as a result of the hit and run incident which occurred on Christmas Eve and we didn’t allow it to spoil our festive celebrations.

“Following the incident, the resident whose bedroom was damaged was moved to another room within the property. Work also began immediately on repairing the damage and within a month, the resident was able to return to his original room.”