Drunk man was caught driving a stolen motorhome in Wigan

An alcoholic caught driving a stolen motorhome thought he was doing a “good deed” after finding it dumped, a court heard.

Friday, 26th April 2019, 11:05 am
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 12:10 pm
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

Ian Sargent, 52, was returning home from Wigan Tesco when he spotted the Citroen Roma Home and got behind the wheel with his shopping.

Wigan justices heard the vehicle had been stolen from Ashbourne Avenue, New Springs, early that day.

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Its owner had put out a social media appeal and was told it had been seen near St Stephen’s Church, Whelley.

She went there and saw her motorhome being driven very slowly.

Prosecuting, Philippa White said: “She stepped out in front of the vehicle in the road, put her hands out and told the driver to stop.”

He did not have a set of keys to the vehicle, but had used his own house keys, and the owner took them from the ignition.

She spoke to Sargent, who appeared “very relaxed” and asked to remove his shopping, the court heard.

Mrs White said: “He told her his name and when she asked why he had taken the vehicle, he stated, ‘I’m sorry, it was just there.’”

Police attended and tests found Sargent, of Withington Lane, Aspull, to be three times the legal drink-drive limit.

Peter Moran, defending, said: “He knew that the vehicle was in the area. It was open.

“He tells the police that he got into it with a view to driving it around to try to get it back to its rightful location.

“He only moved it 100 yards down the street when the lady in question banged on the windscreen, told him to stop and he got out.”

He said Sargent was an alcoholic and recognised he should not have been driving, having drunk “the best part of a bottle of vodka” that day.

A probation officer told justices that Sargent said the motorhome’s back doors were damaged and opened when he found it. He thought it had been abandoned and recognised it from being parked near his home, she said.

Sargent pleaded guilty to driving without insurance, driving over the legal alcohol limit and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent.

The bench imposed a 12-month community order, with 10 rehabilitation activity days, 200 hours’ unpaid work and a six-month alcohol treatment requirement.

He was banned from driving for three years and told to pay £170 in costs and a victim surcharge.