A repeat drink-driver, who took his boss’s tipper van and ended up in a ditch, led police to the vehicle when he put the hazard warning lights on, a court heard.
Burnley magistrates were told how Mark Chestney (41) was then spotted moving from the driver’s seat to the passenger side to escape, but was caught after a short chase. He was more than twice the drink-drive limit.
The hearing was told the van owner, Archie Heseltine, who employed the roofing labourer, had trusted the defendant to do some work on the engine. Chestney then decided to take his dog for a walk and picked up some friends for a “test drive” in the dark.
Chestney, who has four convictions for drink driving and one for dangerous driving, has now been ordered off the road for three years. The defendant, of Cannon Street, Nelson, admitted driving with excess alcohol, no licence and no insurance, in Moss House Road, Foulridge, and also taking a vehicle without consent, on October 26th. He was given 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, with a 12-week curfew, between 8pm and 7am, seven days a week. He must also pay £85 costs, an £80 victim surcharge and a £150 criminal courts charge.
Bench chairman Mr Stephen Riley said the defendant had a terrible record, but added his solicitor had said Chestney was learning the error of his ways. He told him: “You are taking a heck of a long time to do it.”
Miss Aisha Akhtar (prosecuting) said, just after 7pm, police received a 999 call to go to Moss House Farm. Officers went there and saw three men in a van on a dark track. The engine was running. After Chestney ran off and was stopped, he blew 77 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35.
Mr Ben Leech (defending) said he thought the best thing to do was to take the van for a test drive. He decided to take the dog for a walk and called friends to see if they wanted to go with him. The defendant took a wrong turn.
“He was having trouble reversing and decided he would do a three-point-turn. He came off the road and ended up in a ditch.
“He was stuck in the ditch and put the hazard lights on for other road users. Police were called by a neighbour. He immediately realised the predicament he was in and tried to escape. He bitterly regrets the position he has put himself in.”