A MAN who caused thousands of pounds of damage when he crashed a stolen bus has been locked up.
Adam Winfield, 20, was waiting to catch a service home from Peterlee bus station at about 10pm on April 26 when he started up the Arriva single decker, stopping to pick up a second person on the way.
Prosecutor Martin Towers told Durham Crown Court of a catalogue of errors as Winfield drove the two-mile route to Shotton Colliery, pulling out of junctions without stopping, hitting traffic cones, driving on the wrong side of the road and over a roundabout.
Passing drivers flashed their lights in an attempt to alert him that the bus’s headlights were off.
The journey came to a catastrophic end when it struck parked vehicles and a telegraph pole, with another also falling, stopping when it crashed into a garden wall and a car on a driveway in Shotton Colliery.
The court heard residents in Marcia Avenue and Station Road have been left counting the cost of Winfield’s action, with one out of pocket by £11,200 and another by £5,000.
Northern Electric Distribution Limited estimated the cost of damage to its equipment at £25,000, with Arriva putting the price of repairs to the vehicle at the same amount.
Father-of-one Winfield, of Church Road, Trimdon Station, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, driving without insurance and without a licence.
Stephen Duffield, mitigating, said: “I know he is at a loss to explain why it was that he got involved in these circumstances.
“He was going through some difficulties with his partner and he was spending more time with his male friends.”
In addition to a 12-month term in a young offenders’ institution, Winfield was banned from driving for two years and ordered to take an extended test.
Recorder Neil Davey described the incident as “horrific”.
He added: “It is the worst episode of dangerous driving I have ever heard.”
The 17-year-old passenger, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, during which he allowed himself to be carried in the vehicle and it was driven dangerously.
He was given a 18-month youth rehabilitation order, with 12 months’ supervision, a four month 7pm to 9am curfew and was disqualified from holding a driving licence for 12 months.