Padiham ‘garden shed’ drunk rescued from overturned car

Burnley Magistrates Court
Burnley Magistrates Court

A PADIHAM dad who was drinking in the garden shed while his estranged wife watched TV, stole her car, crashed it and had to be rescued by firefighters, a court heard.

Donal Cahal Fleming (38) had sent Caroline Fleming a text from the shed, asking for beer money. She refused, but then left him £10 when he threatened to get behind the wheel. He demanded her car keys, smashed two windows, told her he would kill her and eventually drove off in her car.

Burnley magistrates heard how Fleming, who was not entitled to drive as he had epilepsy and had no licence or insurance, was later found unconscious in the overturned vehicle and was taken to hospital. He smelled strongly of alcohol and gave a test showing 207 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80.

The defendant, from Padiham, but bailed to live in Greenway Street, Darwen, was told he was facing jail, after admitting aggravated vehicle taking on May 20th, common assault on May 19th, driving with excess alcohol and driving with no licence or insurance. He was given an interim ban. The case was adjourned so a pre-sentence report could be compiled.

Prosecutor Sophie Lorimer said, at 9 p.m., Mrs Fleming, who had been married to the defendant for 12 years, was watching television. He was in the garden shed. The prosecutor said: “That’s a regular occurrence when she’s watching television.”

Fleming went into the house, started to look for the car keys and even lifted up the mattress his estranged wife was lying on with her 10-year-old daughter. Mrs Fleming kept telling him he was not having the car keys. She then heard two windows smash.

Mrs Lorimer said Fleming continued to demand the keys and his wife eventually handed them over. He then told her he would kill her if she called the police and set off in the vehicle. About 10 minutes later, he came back. The defendant went through the kitchen drawers, the victim thought he was looking for a knife and fled upstairs, followed by her husband.

Mrs Fleming told the defendant he scared her to death, he took her phone, continued to shout at her and then punched a hole in the wall. She told him to leave and said she had hidden the keys, but he found them and drove off again.

At 1-20 a.m., she was awoken by police who told her Fleming had crashed and both the defendant and car were upside down. The vehicle had been found in Partridge Hill Street, Padiham. The front doors were open and Fleming was still in the driver’s seat.

Nick Dearing (defending) said: “He is extremely ashamed of his utterly boorish and oafish behaviour towards his wife.”

The defendant had a long-term disability in his epilepsy and had started to drink too much and too often. He had lost his temper.

Mr Dearing said the assault was by threats, rather than violence. At no point had he raised a fist to the victim, but he did make her fearful. And only one car was involved in the collision. The solicitor added: “Apart from himself, he didn’t harm anybody.”