A MECHANIC who took a cocktail of drugs before getting behind the wheel and crashing his car has appeared at court.

Lee Thomas Morris collided with roadside furniture on Greenfield Way in Newton Aycliffe on the evening of December 4 last year after 'a year from hell', Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court heard.

The 43-year-old was said to be 'talking excessively' to police following the collision, which led them to suspect he was under the influence.

Lee Poppett, prosecuting, said: “A police constable was dealing with the collision and on arrival it’s described that a white VW Golf had suffered significant damage.

"The driver identified himself to police and was very happy to deal with the officer, he accepted that he had been driving the vehicle and had hit the curb which had then caused him to drive into the roadside furniture

"The officers described him as talking a lot, excessively in fact, but not really making any sense and they therefore suspected that he was under the influence of drink or drugs."

Morris was arrested at the roadside and taken to the police station where a sample of blood was taken which showed that he had heroin and two other drugs in his system, including a strong sedative.

Mr Poppett added: "He was interviewed and admitted to being at a friend’s house in Bishop Auckland where he had taken some drugs and then decided to drive home.

"He accepts that he was over the limit and was driving with drugs in his system and that as a result of that a collision occurred."

Morris, of Biscop Crescent, Newton Aycliffe, pleaded guilty to one charge of driving a vehicle whilst unfit through drugs.

Peter Hamill, mitigating, said his client was deeply sorry for the incident and was likely to lose his job as a mechanic following his appearance at court.

He said: “The defendant was co-operative with police officers at the scene of the incident and he made full admissions in interview.

“It’s unfortunate that he finds himself in court today because as you can see, he had a terrible record, but after receiving a lengthy custodial sentence in 2014 he came out of prison and completely turned his life around. At the minute he has a job working at Kwik Fit in Northallerton.

“He tells me he effectively had the year from hell last year. His long term partner had been in hospital for a lengthy period of time and his mother was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

“A culmination of things resulted in him wanting to just go to sleep for a considerable amount of time and put things out of his mind.

“He was previously a heroin addict, and he took the drugs thinking he would be able to drive home afterwards because quite frankly he had a significant heroin addiction.

"But unfortunately they have hit him like a train and on the way home the accident has occurred and he has collided with the roadside furniture.

"He can't remember taking the heroin and believes he must have taken it after he has taken some sleeping tablets.

"He is very fearful that he is going to lose his job which is punishment in itself.

Chair of the bench, Ian Goodman, said: "We hear you are really disappointed in yourself and so are we. When people are addicted to heroin and then get themselves clean it's fabulous. Circumstances may have pushed you to it, but we have a duty of care to the public."

Morris was fined £576 and must also pay £85 costs and £57 victim surcharge. He was also disqualified from driving for 17 months.