A DRINK driver left a trail of damage as he careered round a housing estate in his father’s work van.

Durham Crown Court heard that Jamie Lawson took the Ford Transit without his father’s permission after drinking heavily on the evening of May 24.

He drove the vehicle from outside the family home, in Green Crescent, Coxhoe, County Durham, negotiating nearby streets before losing control and colliding with four parked cars in Vicarage Terrace.

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Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said a BMW, Suzuki Vitara and Ford Fiesta were “extensively damaged”, while a bumper was dinted on an Audi A4.

Householders, including some of the car owners, emerged from their homes on hearing the commotion and police were called.

Mr Dryden, prosecuting, said an agitated Lawson, who was in the damaged van, shouted abusively when confronted by angry residents, telling them he was, “innocent until proved guilty”.

On arrest he gave a breath test reading revealing double the permitted amount of alcohol for driving in his system.

He made full admissions saying he had never previously driven the van.

Mr Dryden said the combined cost of the damage came to almost £14,000, while the van was written off.

Lawson, 25, admitted aggravated vehicle taking, drink driving, using a vehicle without insurance and other than in accordance with the licence.

David Lamb, mitigating, told the court: “It was an incredibly stupid act by a man who has never been in trouble before.”

The court heard the Lawson, described as, “a hard working joiner at a local factory”, was troubled by domestic matters within his family, causing him depression and leading him to drink more heavily than usual that night.

Mr Lamb said Lawson wanted to apologise to all those affected by his actions that night.

Judge Brian Forster told Lawson: “There appear to be many positive features in your case.

“However, it seems that matters got totally on top of you that night.

“You had difficulty coping due to what was going on in your family.

“But, what you did could have been a million times worse.

“You could have knocked down someone, or someone could have been in one of those vehicles.

“Fortunately, it didn’t happen.

“But, I believe this was a ‘one-off’, and anyone knowing your situation would understand that.”

He imposed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, during which Lawson will be supervised by the Probation Service.

Lawson was also banned from driving for a year, and may be facing a £1,200 compensation order, £300 to each of the owners of the four worst damaged vehicles, once the prosecution confirms the insurance position in each case.