Drug-driver caught after crashing into parked cars and bollards in South Shields

A South Tyneside driver who pleaded guilty to eight charges was lucky not to face a ninth, a court heard.

By Gareth Crickmer
Sunday, 17th October 2021, 4:55 am

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said jobless Reece Hepplewhite, 20, could also easily have been prosecuted for careless driving.

But he still threw the book at Hepplewhite, of Dock Street, Tyne Dock, South Shields, who drove after taking cannabis and diazepam.

During shambolic driving on Wednesday, March 10, the defendant collided with bollards and parked cars, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

He was stopped by police in Dacre Street.

Blood tests taken after he was pulled over by police in Dacre Street, Chichester, South Shields, showed evidence he had consumed the illegal substances.

It led to him pleading guilty to two charges of drug-driving – and he admitted three other motoring offences.

They were driving without a licence, driving without insurance and failing to stop for a police officer.

Hepplewhite also held his hands up to possession of class B drugs cannabis and codeine, and class C drug diazepam.

Mr Anderson said: “He buys a car and is seen driving said car. As police go to speak to him, he moves off.

“Perhaps, fortunately, he’s lucky not to be charged with careless driving. He crashes his vehicle into bollards and hits cars.

“He is found in possession of some drugs, and bloods taken show prior use of cannabis, and there is also diazepam above the limit.

“He has the good sense to plead guilty, though he probably had little choice.”

The court heard Hepplewhite gave a blood test reading for diazepam of not less than 810mcg per litre of blood. The legal limit is 550mcg.

And he also showed positive for cannabis breakdown product THC at a level of 6.7mcg per litre of blood. The legal limit is 2mcg.

Amy Hossack, defending, said: “He is a young man who has no previous convictions.

“Those people whose cars he hit he knows didn’t deserve that. He was using diazepam to excess.”

Magistrates banned Hepplewhite from driving for two years and sentenced him to a 12-month community order.

It carries requirements of 25 days of rehabilitation work and 200 hours of unpaid work, and there was a £95 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.