Suspected Burnley drink driver threatened residents with pickaxe handle

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A suspected drink-driver, who crashed into three parked cars on a Burnley street, produced a pickaxe handle and made threats to assault residents, a court was told.

Craig Ludlam, who had cocaine on him, told police he been planning to visit friends for a drink and drugs “treat". He claimed he had swerved to avoid a cat and wished he had killed it rather than causing all the damage.

The town’s magistrates heard Ludlam had tried to start his engine, but was told by a witness to leave the van where it was and to take the key out. He became aggressive, started swinging punches and got the weapon out of the vehicle, in the 8pm “angry scene” on Brunshaw Avenue.

The 44-year-old fabricator swore and threatened onlookers: “If anyone comes near me they will get this round their napper.”

Mrs Tracy Yates (prosecuting) said Ludlam then walked off, police arrested and searched him and he had a small amount of cocaine on him.

The defendant admitted he had had two drinks. He was taken to hospital and a blood sample was taken after a roadside breath test. The analysis results are still being awaited.

Mrs Yates added: "He said he had been the driver, borrowed the van from a neighbour and was on his way home to pick the dog up to go for a walk. He crashed into three vehicles and was only driving at 25mph as he knows the street very well.

"He said he was planning to visit friends who were camping and have drink and some drugs as a treat and was in possession of the pickaxe handle only to protect himself. Members of the public were being intimidating towards him, he was in shock due to the crash and he picked up the handle as he wanted people to go away. He denied being aggressive and said he wasn’t drunk.”

Mr David Lawson (defending) said the blood test would determine whether Ludlam was over the limit.

The defendant’s air bag had been deployed, he was in shock and a number of people out in the street were rather angry, particularly those whose vehicles had been damaged. It was an angry scene.

Mr Lawson said: "A matter of seconds thereafter he made off down a ginnel. It was more a case of flight, rather than fight. Moments later, he returned with the stick and waited for police to attend.”

The defendant had previously had a problem with drink and perhaps other substances, had been to Inspire (the treatment service), had become a voluntary worker and got a job with a local engineering firm. He decided to sub-contract and that led to lonely stays in hotels and more drink.

The solicitor told the court Ludlam had “an addictive personality." He had been diagnosed with adult ADHD.

Mr Lawson added: "He comes to court recognising he can’t just have that one drink. He is now going to Inspire again.”

The defendant, of Carholme Avenue. Burnley, admitted possessing an offensive weapon and possessing cocaine, on August 10th.

He was given a 12 -month community order, with a six-month alcohol treatment programme and a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement and must do 80 hours unpaid work.

Ludlam was ordered to pay a £90 victim surcharge and £85 costs. Allegations of driving when above the alcohol limit and no insurance were adjourned until September 24th.