Drink driver ploughed into shop

Michael Downs, left, and Michael Turnbull, right, leaving Teesside Crown Court
Michael Downs, left, and Michael Turnbull, right, leaving Teesside Crown Court

A WOMAN using a cash machine had an amazing escape when a drink driver slammed on the accelerator instead of the brake before ploughing through the front of a shop.

Michael Turnbull, 30, was almost three times over the limit when he crashed his friend’s car into Gordon Snowdon butcher’s, on Elizabeth Way, in Seaton Carew.

He narrowly missed a woman who was using a cash machine just a few yards away when Turnbull smashed through the shop’s front glass window.

Pal Michael Downs, 23, who was a passenger in the Citroen Saxo, persuaded Turnbull to say he had stolen it so that his insurance would pay out.

But police quickly saw through the “cock and bull story” and both were charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

They were spared jail after they finally put their hands up on the day they were due to stand trial.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the pair had spent the previous day and night drinking when they went out in Downs’ car around lunchtime on Sunday, October 13.

Colin Harvey, prosecuting, said: “Turnbull claims the accident was caused by his foot slipping on the brake pedal to the accelerator.

“A large plate glass window shattered over the Citroen Saxo which came to rest with the bonnet and front wheels inside the shop.

“Mercifully nobody was hurt.

“Downs, who is the owner of the car, was for saying it had been taken without his consent by his friend Mr Turnbull.

“Turnbull made a full confession against his own interest as to the taking and driving totally absolving Downs.

“As police made enquiries into this event, they formed the view they had been told a cock and bull story about the car being stolen.

“It seems they dug themselves into a hole and didn’t know how to get out of it, perhaps frightened by the consequences.”

Downs and Turnbull pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Turnbull, of The Front, Seaton Carew, also admitted driving with excess alcohol, having no insurance and driving other than in accordance with a licence.

Joseph Spencer, mitigating for unemployed Turnbull, said: “He made two foolish decisions that day.

“He accepts being under the influence and agreed he lied to the police.”

Katy Rafter, for Downs, of Eden Way, Billingham, said: “This was a stupid snap decision on his part that snowballed and ran away with him.”

The Judge, Recorder James Adkin, told them: “If you were convicted after a trial you would have been going to prison, no doubt about it.

“It’s fortunate you took good advice and pleaded guilty when you did because that is going to save you a short custodial sentence.”

Both defendants were given 12 months prison suspended for 12 months.

Turnbull was also ordered to do 220 hours unpaid work and was banned from driving for 22 months.

Downs was given 200 hours unpaid work.