Drug-driver narrowly avoided hitting cyclist - right in front of police officer he had just spoken to

A drug-taking motorist with a bad back has been banned from the roads after being seen by police narrowly avoiding a cyclist at a South Tyneside petrol station.
The incident happened near the petrol station in York AvenueThe incident happened near the petrol station in York Avenue
The incident happened near the petrol station in York Avenue

Richard Butterworth, 33, of South View, narrowly avoided the crash at the fuel stop in York Avenue, both Jarrow, on Monday, March 30.

Butterworth’s actions were spotted by a female police officer who he had spoken to moments earlier at the cash desk and who suspected he may have been drunk.

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She watched as he got into his Ford Transit van on the forecourt and attempted to reverse, a court heard

The officer approached and stopped him in his tracks, at which he commented: “Was it because I nearly hit the bike?”

Prosecutor Grace Taylor told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court a breath test proved negative but a blood test revealed Butterworth had taken both cannabis and diazepam.

District Judge Kathryn Meek banned Butterworth from driving for 18 months, and told him: “Stop taking drugs for your bad back.”

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Ms Taylor told the hearing: “At 10.30pm an officer was on duty and was at the York Avenue garage.

“The defendant was also at the garage and as she approached the cash desk, he said, ‘You’ll have to use the window’.

“She could hear that his speech was slurred and it seemed that he was drunk.

“She watched him get into the vehicle and watched him reverse, just missing a cyclist.

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“He said that he hadn’t drank for ages but had had cannabis three days earlier and was detoxing.

“He said that he had 30 diazepam tablets hidden behind the visor, and ten pregabalin tablets were also found. None had been prescribed.

She added: “In interview, he said he had bought the drugs illegally and said that he thought he was in control of the vehicle.”

Butterworth, who pleaded guilty to possession of drugs and driving while unfit through drugs, was also given a 12-month community order by magistrates the judge.

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It compels him to complete 18 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service.

He must also pay a £95 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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