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Driver who crashed into Paignton home warned he could have been jailed

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

  • crash: The Jaguar car embedded in the bedroom of Sandra Mitchell.

A BANNED driver, who crashed his car into a Paignton grandmother's house, has been told he was lucky to escape prison.

Thomas Burgess was driving his father's Jaguar S Type VRM six months into a 15-month ban, without any insurance, when he swerved heavily to avoid another driver who braked in front of him.

Torbay magistrates heard on the day, in early January, Burgess lost control of the car and wrote it off after clipping a concrete post and crashing into the home in Ramshill Road.

No-one was injured, but magistrates told Burgess it was a 'nasty incident which could have had more serious implications'.

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Burgess crashed the car into Sandra Mitchell's home just as the 62-year-old grandmother of five was working on her computer in the lounge.

The car careered into the wall of her bedroom, knocking out some of the brickwork and sending debris all over the bed. Her lounge is just five feet from where the car crashed into her ground floor flat.

Lindsey Baker, prosecuting, told the court Burgess, 22, from Foxhole Road, tried to run away from the scene, but was stopped by members of the public who restrained him until police arrived and arrested him.

Burgess pleaded guilty to one charge of driving while disqualified and to another of driving without insurance when he appeared in court on February 7. He denied a third charge of careless driving which was dropped when no evidence was offered.

Mrs Baker told the court: "Had he not been stopped by a member of the public he would not have been traced because the car was not in his name.

"He is banned from driving until October 2013. When interviewed by police he did admit the disqualification and having no insurance.

"One driver said had she not braked Burgess' car would have hit her head on.

"The offence was aggravated by the collision into the house. It was a serious collision which could have been a lot more serious. Burgess should not have been driving that day."

In her report to the court, Gill French, a CPS officer, said: "Mr Burgess needs someone to help him to formulate his attitude. He knows theoretically what he did is wrong and was dangerous, but if you ask him whose fault it was he says it was the woman in front of him who braked.

"It was not a deliberate attempt to flaunt the court order but he didn't think carefully about what he was doing."

Kevin Hopper, mitigating, said Burgess had never gone to prison for any offence. He added: "If the court sends him to prison for 12 weeks he would be out in six with a tag which would be a great waste of taxpayers' money."

Magistrates sentenced Burgess to a 12-month community order including 180 hours of unpaid work, a 12-month driving ban on top of his current one and ordered he takes a re-test when his ban expires. He was also told to pay £145 in costs and victim surcharge.

Sue Knott, chairman of the bench, said: "This was a nasty incident with a potential for serious injuries, but fortunately there were none.

"It was a serious offence, but to your credit you pleaded guilty."

Magistrates said any compensation would have to be left to the civil courts.

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