Banned drink-driver stole delivery van and crashed into a tree

A banned driver went on the run in a stolen grocery van, only to drive down a dead end and crash into a tree.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 12:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th July 2020, 12:49 pm

Darren Thoburn jumped into the driver's seat after the van had momentarily been left vacant in the click and collect area outside the Sainsbury’s store in Washington Galleries on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 17.

Thoburn – who received a two-year driving ban earlier this year for a traffic offence – then accelerated out of the car park, narrowly missing pedestrians as he darted down a back lane.

Realising it was a dead end, Thoburn, 34, of no fixed abode, slammed on the brakes but the van smashed into a tree and a metal pole.

Darren Thoburn

He ran off but was soon caught after officers were directed by members of the public to his hiding place.

He was found to be over the legal alcohol limit and in possession of wire cutters, an emergency glass breaker and a blade wrapped in tape.

Now he is facing jail.

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Sainsbury's, The Galleries

Thoburn refused to cooperate with Northumbria Police in interview following the van theft, but later admitted a string of offences.

He admitted aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst disqualified, driving above the legal limit, no insurance, going equipped and dangerous driving when he appeared before magistrates in South Tyneside on Monday, July 13, as well as a separate burglary after raiding Olivia’s coffee shop in Washington on Saturday, June 13.

He is due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, August 10.

Detective Sergeant Chris Raper-Smith, said in a statement: “This was an opportunistic crime and one that saw Thoburn endanger not only his own life but the lives of others.

“He knowingly and willingly climbed into the Sainsbury’s van despite being disqualified from driving and also while under the influence of alcohol.

"He received this ban in court in February – so was well aware that through his actions he was breaking the law.

“He simply needs to grow up and think carefully about the serious consequences that his selfish actions can have on others.”

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