AN 18-YEAR-OLD drink-driver who overturned his car just two weeks after passing his test had been offered £20 to take friends home from a night out.

Jacob Gardiner lost control and wrote off a Seat Ibiza he bought three days earlier after he crashed into parked cars, flipping his vehicle onto its roof with other teenage passengers inside.

Emergency services were called to Swinburne Road, in Darlington’s West End, after residents heard the smash at 4.45am on Tuesday, July 3.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that Gardiner, of The Green, in Hurworth, Darlington, was found by police officers to be sat on a garden wall near the scene, drinking a cup of tea.

Joanne Hesse, prosecuting, said: “He had owned the vehicle for three days having passed his test two weeks earlier.

“He was in town to celebrate a birthday and said he’d had a beer and two Jägerbombs. His intention was not to drive, but he was offered £20 to drive his friends home.

“He had looked down to untangle a mobile phone charger cable from the gear stick and when he looked back up, it was just prior to the collision.”

Gardiner, who is employed at Rockliffe Hall, in Hurworth, was arrested at the scene and taken to Darlington Police Station.

He provided a breath sample of 85 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Robert Willoughby, mitigating for the 18-year-old, said that his client was remorseful for his actions and is due to move to Switzerland for six months to train to become a ski instructor.

Mr Willoughby added: “He’s not had a driving licence for very long and had a car for an even shorter amount of time.

“He’s driven the car from his home in Hurworth to a friend’s house in Darlington with the intention of staying there overnight.

“He walked into town and had some alcohol. He then walked back to this friend's house with two young girls who maybe put some pressure on him to give them a lift home.”

He said: “He was driving a short distance to their homes when he attempted to untangle the mobile phone cable and he hit the parked cars. There was some damage to the parked cars.

“He’s been left in no uncertain terms of the foolishness of his actions on the night in question.”

Gardiner, who was supported by his parents in court, pleaded guilty to a single charge of drink-driving and was banned from the roads for 22 months.

He was also fined £120 and ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a £30 victim surcharge.

Magistrates invited the 18-year-old to complete the drink-driving rehabilitation course.