Wigan man with "phenomenal" drink problem could die, court warns

Wigan Magistrates' Court
Wigan Magistrates' Court

A Wigan man with a “phenomenal” alcohol problem was warned by a court he “could be dead in 12 months” if he does not stop drinking soon.


Donald Ridley was issued the stark warning by magistrates at Wigan and Leigh Courthouse, after being charged with criminal damage.

The 25-year-old of Abbey Lane, Leigh, admitted to smashing a window at the Belong care home in Atherton, following a day of heavy drinking on September 29.

The court heard how Ridley, who staggered and slurred his speech as he stood in the dock, was walking past the care home in Mealhouse Lane in the early evening.

He made attempts to enter the premises, and told a staff member who confronted him: “I’m the boss.”

He was asked to move on, at which point Ridley told her to “**** off.”

He then swung a rucksack he was carrying at a window, smashing it into pieces.

Damage to the 8ft x 8ft window was estimated to have cost £500 to repair.

Police were called, and he was arrested nearby shortly afterwards.

It was revealed that Ridley had been removed from his mother’s house earlier that day by police - reasons for which were not disclosed to the court - and had been taken to a friend’s house.

He was reportedly making his way back to his mother’s address at the time of walking past the care home.

In a victim impact statement, the staff member said she hoped Ridley “would be made to pay” for his actions.

Defending Ridley, solicitor Bob Toppin told justices that his client had severe learning difficulties in addition to his drinking issues, adding that Ridley drank a “phenomenal amount of alcohol” on a daily basis.

“He is not just a heavy drinker, he has a disease,” he said.

Mr Toppin added that Ridley had no recollection of the events, having drank between 10-12 cans of lager and a large amount of vodka on the day of the incident.

In sentencing, the bench imposed a 12 month community order, consisting of a nine month alcohol treatment programme and 15 days R.A.R. (Rehabilitation activity requirement). Ridley must also pay £770 in fines, compensation and court costs - including the £500 it had cost to replace the window.

Chairman of the bench, Mr Patterson, told Ridley: “You have to listen. You could be dead in 12 months. You have the rest of your life ahead of you. Only you can stop this.”

He added: “£770 for getting drunk. That’s how much that night cost you.”