Drink driver jailed - Welwyn

19/05/2014

Drink driver Thomas Burch injured himself and three friends when he crashed an Audi A4 in an attempt to avoid a speed camera.

Burch, aged 20, was sentenced to 14 months immediate detention today, Monday, 19 May 2014, for the early morning crash, in which two of his passengers were seriously hurt.

The sous chef was showing off to Liam Gibbins, Oliver Curiel and Nathan Molyneaux when he sped along the B197 on The Great North Road at Welwyn. He crashed into a brick wall and railings and flipped the blue car over onto its side, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Kate Fortescue said the crash happened at 2.20 in the morning on Sunday, 04 August last year. The friends had been drinking in Welwyn Garden City and had bought more beer to drink at Burch's home. She said two of the passengers asked him to slow down, but he ignored them.

Burch, who was treated in hospital for a broken collar bone, gave a blood alcohol reading of 186 - two and a quarter times over the drink drive limit.

Liam Gibbins was in hospital for 9 days with two large cuts to his forearm, a broken tibia and glass injuries. Oliver Curiel had a punctured right lung, broken ribs and bleeding to the stomach as well as cuts. He spent 10 days in hospital. Nathan Molyneaux had a 40cm scar on his stomach and suffered bruising, said the prosecutor.

A police expert estimated the car had been travelling at between 53 and 60 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Burch, of Twin Foxes, Woolmer Green, pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol.

Defence barrister Tim Forte said Burch was remorseful and accepts full responsibility. "He struggles with guilt. His three friends suffered serious injuries through his fault," he said. He said he was not a boy racer and had acted out of character. "He is well liked by his peers and his employers and accepts he acted in a crass, dangerous and stupid way. It is something he will never do again. He is a decent young man, who went horribly wrong on one occasion," said Mr Forte.

Recorder David Mayall sentenced him to 14 months detention and banned him from driving for three years. He told him: "This was an extremely serious offence. You were showing off to your friends that night while you were under the influence of a considerable amount of alcohol. The accident caused serious injuries. It could have been much, much worse. It is necessary for the court to pass a sentence that has a deterrent effect on young men to stop them drinking, getting into cars and showing off to their friends."

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