A DRUNKEN unlicensed motorist ploughed into a parked car, shunting it towards a garden wall, a court heard.

Sean Nathan Church, who had taken his partner’s Fiat Panda without permission, was seen getting out of the vehicle, mumbling incoherently, before removing two cans of lager from the boot and staggering away.

Durham Crown Court heard the owner of the damaged vehicle looked out of her window to see Church after being woken by the noise of the shunt.

Other residents in Henley Avenue, Pelton Fell, took photographs as he left the scene, shortly after 9am on Saturday March 17.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said a police officer spotted Church, who matched the witnesses’ description, on the road to Grange Villa a short time later.

When he was arrested a small bag of cannabis was found in his possession, while a drug test revealed traces of cannabis and cocaine in his system.

He told police he had taken ten tranquilisers and was taken, as a precaution, to hospital, where he refused to give police a blood sample.

Mr Dryden said when he was interviewed, Church claimed it was not him on the residents’ photos and generally made no comment to questioning.

The court heard the parked Vauxhall Corsa was a £4,617 insurance write-off, leaving the owner £200 out of pocket for excess, while the overall bill came to more than £5,000, added to the damage to the Panda.

Church, 29, of South Durham Court, Sunderland, admitted aggravated vehicle taking, failing to provide a blood specimen or stop at an accident scene, having no insurance or licence and cannabis possession.

Jamie Adams, mitigating said he had some “turmoil” in his life at the time and sought an escape in drink.

Jailing him for 17 months, Judge Jonathan Carroll told Church he was, “clearly in no fit state to drive”, and could easily have caused injury, or worse, to himself, other road users or pedestrians.

Church was also banned from driving for 26 months.