A drunk trucker who downed half a litre of vodka while he watched his 44-tonne lorry being loaded - then flipped the massive trailer on a busy dual carriageway during rush hour - was jailed this week.
Darren Moorhouse drank three quarters of a bottle of the strong spirit as he awaited a massive load being put on his truck in Peterhead.
He managed to negotiate 100 miles of the A90 road south as he headed to England before causing a “dramatic” smash on the Kingsway, Dundee. Moorhouse drove his articulated truck, carrying 23 tonnes of peat briquettes, too quickly as he went round the Myrekirk roundabout on the outskirts of the city.
The offside wheels of the lorry left the road - and as Moorhouse tried to correct it as he came off the roundabout the trailer became detached from the tractor unit before falling on to the road and central reservation.
Police took Moorhouse to Dundee’s police HQ and found he was three times the drink-drive limit.
Fiscal depute Susan Ruta told Dundee Sheriff Court the trucker had stopped at Ellon, Aberdeenshire, to drop off a load - and bought the bottle of vodka on his way to Peterhead from there.
He then drank three-quarters of it as he waited for the freight to be loaded into the trailer before setting off bound for England.
The court was shown CCTV footage that showed the trailer toppling in busy traffic before sliding down the road and coming to a stop.
Miraculously it didn’t hit any other vehicles, despite the accident happening around 5pm in rush hour traffic.
Miss Ruta said: “The lorry had gradually slowed down as a pedestrian crossed the road just before the roundabout, then, while negotiating the roundabout itself, the off-side wheels had lifted from the ground.
“The vehicle then turned to the left to egress from the roundabout and the load and trailer had shifted to the off side.
“The trailer unit then became detached from the tractor unit and landed on its side in lane two, continuing to slide for a short distance and coming to rest in lane two and on the central reservation.”
The accident took place shortly after 5pm and, by 6.30pm, when Moorhouse was taken to police headquarters, he gave an alcohol reading of almost three times the limit.
The vehicle’s tachograph was analysed and the fiscal said, while it was difficult to say for sure what speed it was doing at the time of the accident, it is thought to have been travelling at between 20 and 25mph.
The court heard he had been suspended from driving after the incident, and lost his job as a result.
Moorhouse (40), of Burnley Road, Burnley, admitted driving the HGV with 111 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The limit is 35. He also admitted driving dangerously by trying to negotiate the roundabout at excessive speed and losing control of the vehicle. He admitted causing the trailer to topple over, detach from the tractor unit and fall on to the off-side lane of the dual carriageway where it collided with a safety barrier.
Defence solicitor Mike Ferrie said Moorhouse was married to a Thai woman he met on the Internet last year, and had four children from a previous marriage. He said: “He has no previous convictions and is extremely worried about the prospect of custody.
“He can’t really explain why this incident occurred. He has much to lose here if custody is imposed. This incident could have presented danger not only to other drivers and himself but to pedestrians as well.
“It was fortunate much worse did not come as a consequence of this.”
Sheriff Richard McFarlane jailed Moorhouse for a year and banned him from driving for three years. He said: “You could not have been in control of that vehicle from the start of that journey.
“I find it incomprehensible you had committed the first offence of driving with a significant amount of alcohol in your breath, which then led to the dangerous driving.