An uninsured drug driver who crashed into a Swindon shop has avoided a stint in prison.
31-year-old Liam Wells ploughed a black Honda Civic into Michael’s Workwear on Cricklade Road in the early hours of Saturday 4 March.
The collision, which caused significant damage to the building and completely destroyed the car, happened as the defendant attempted to evade police in a 70-second chase.
Officers had been responding to reports of a vehicle driving slowly and without any lights in the area – but on attempting to stop the driver, he drove away at 78mph before losing control.
Firefighters attended the scene to deal with a damaged gas pipe and a forensic collision investigation was carried out by Wiltshire Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit.
At Swindon Magistrates’ Court in August, Wells pleaded guilty to numerous offences and the case was sent to Swindon Crown Court for sentencing due to the severity of the incident.
He admitted charges of dangerous driving, driving whilst over the prescribed drug limit for Benzoylecgonine (cocaine derivative), driving without insurance and driving without a licence.
Despite causing damage valued at about £100,000, the defendant avoided an immediate custodial sentence. He was handed a 16-month prison term suspended for two years.
He was told to complete 30 sessions of rehabilitation activity and must pay £425 costs. Wells, of The Circle, Pinehurst, was banned from driving for two years.
In summing up, Judge Jason Taylor KC said: “It was extremely fortunate you did not hit the pizza shop next door which the officers noted had a number of customers within. The officers themselves were just about to desist with the pursuit due to the danger you posed to the public.
“You were knocked unconscious, it could have been very different. You were tested for drugs. it was negative but to your credit you volunteered cocaine use early that evening.
“You made full admissions in the interview. You also apologised for your actions personally.
“The aggravating features are mitigated by your co-operation and your full admissions and genuine remorse.“
PC Sean Williams of the Wiltshire Police Serious Collision Investigation Team said: “Wells showed complete disregard to members of the public when he decided to drive away from officers at speeds far exceeding the limit for the roads he was on.
“It was a matter of luck that someone was not seriously hurt in this collision. The car crashed next door to a takeaway with numerous people inside at the time.
“When I approached the scene shortly after the collision, I was fully expecting to be confronted by at least one fatality.
“I hope this sentence sends a clear message that such reckless driving is entirely unacceptable.”
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