A DRUNK man who flipped his Audi during rush hour traffic had been convicted of drink driving five times previously.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard that driver David Steven Walker got behind the wheel in Darlington after drinking all day because he thought “people were coming to get him”.

Walker, who is diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, managed to drive from his address in Bedford Street around the corner to Victoria Embankment before he crashed into three parked cars and flipped his silver Audi A3 onto its side.

After firefighters cut Walker free from the car he took a road side breath test which showed 110mg of alcohol in his breath, more than three times the legal limit of 35mg.

Jeff Taylor, prosecuting, said Walker was convicted for drink driving twice in 2002 when he went to prison for the offence, twice in 2004 and once in 2009. He was also convicted of drug driving in 2016 when he was banned for three years.

Rory Todd, mitigating, said: “The last excess alcohol was ten years ago although there is an offence of drug driving more recently.

“He is paranoid schizophrenic and alcohol dependant.

“On that day he had been drinking and had gone to sleep. He often gets psychotic illusions and he woke up convinced people were after him and he left the house, got into the car, and crashed around the corner.

“Thankfully nobody else was involved.

“Granted he was drinking and was over the limit but the reason he left the house and got into the car was linked to his paranoid schizophrenia.”

A report from probation said: “He had been drinking throughout the day, he tells me he can remember being in the car but then woke up when the car was on its side and emergency services were all around him. He states he wants to stop drinking and needs help with that.

“He’s on medication for his paranoid schizophrenia and he knows it’s not a good mix when he mixes it with alcohol.”

Walker pleaded guilty to one charge of driving whilst above the legal limit on Monday, September 23.

Chair of the bench, Catherine Sunley, told Walker he came “very close” to going to prison as she handed him a 12 month community order with a requirement to attend nine alcohol rehabilitation activity days.

The 37-year-old was also fined £180 reduced to £120 for an early guilty plea and must pay £32 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

He was also banned from driving for 52 months.

Walker said: “Oh my god, aw well, that’s understandable because of what I have done. I am so sorry for what I have done.”