When news happens, text KENEWS and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
Flookburgh man sentenced for drunken drive through Solfest site
3:42pm Friday 18th October 2013 in News
A MAN who forced people to leap for safety as he went on a drunken drive through the crowds at a Cumbrian music festival was told in court he was lucky not to have seriously hurt anyone.
Craig Thomas Armstrong, 24, of Green Lane, Flookburgh, was arrested on August 25 after leaving families “scattering in all directions” as he drove at up to 40mph around the campsite at Solfest, near Silloth.
People had to jump out of the way and parents had to drag their children to safety as Armstrong careered along the site’s “narrow walkways” in his Ford Fiesta, prosecuting counsel Brendan Burke told Carlisle Crown Court.
“There were crowds scattering before him,” Mr Burke said. “Parents had to grab children out of the pathway to avoid the vehicle.”
When a security vehicle was parked to block his path he drove straight at it, making the occupants believe he was going to crash into it to “breach the roadblock,” Mr Burke said.
He stopped nose-to-nose with the other car, then reversed and drove off over a tent, which fortunately was not occupied.
Armstrong eventually stopped and ran off after getting out of his car, but after about 50 metres gave up, turned to face the pursuing security men and held up his hands, Mr Burke said.
He told them: “I’ve been stupid. Can we not sort this out? Don’t call the police.”
Armstrong failed one breath test and then – when he was physically unable to take another – told police: “I’m sorry, but I’m so drunk I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Armstrong, who had previous convictions for assault, careless driving and supplying drugs, pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving and failing to provide a breath sample for analysis.
His barrister Mr Elias said Armstrong, who works as a civil engineer and is studying part-time for a degree at Sheffield Hallam University, realised the incident potentially jeopardised all the hard work he had done in recent years.
“He is in an enviable position – having a job, qualifications and a career within his grasp,” he said. “But he knows he has come close to throwing it all away with an act of madness.”
Mr Elias said Armstrong could not understand what had led him to behave in such a way.
“He’d been at the festival for a number of days and the sort of diet you live on at such events is not the healthiest,” he said. “A diet of burgers is perhaps not the best foundation for excessive alcohol – maybe that explains why he was so very drunk.”
Armstrong was given a four month sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work and banned from driving for a year.
He was also made to pay £200 costs and an £80 statutory surcharge.
The judge, Recorder John Corless, told him: “You placed people in very real and serious danger. You are very fortunate that you did not seriously injure anyone. If you had you would have been facing a much more serious charge.”