Motorist’s apology for crash

Michael Owen outside Wigan Magistrates Court
Michael Owen outside Wigan Magistrates Court

A DRINK-DRIVER who ploughed his car into the hallway of a house as a young family slept upstairs has been made an example of by justices.

Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard that just after midnight on July 10 last year Michael Owen lost control of his car and it crashed through the front wall of the house on Plane Avenue, Worsley Hall, and into the hallway causing £18,000 in damages.

He then fled the scene leaving an injured friend trapped in the passenger seat.

The 23-year-old, who already has a conviction for drink-driving, was sentenced to 12 weeks in custody suspended for 12 months. He was banned from driving for 40 months and ordered to carry out 60 hours’ unpaid work. Owen must also be supervised by the Probation Service for 12 months as well as attend a drink-impaired drivers programme.

A remorseful Owen told the court how sorry he was for what he had done and submitted a letter to magistrates detailing his regret and apologising to the family into whose house he crashed.

Defending, Andrea Woods said: “He made a very foolish decision to drive his car on July 10 last year and he has found the consequences of his actions very difficult to live with.”

The court heard that Owen has had a number of problems in his past including having to have half of his lung removed in his early teens.

This is said to have had a big impact on him and he became quite an angry young man with low confidence and self-esteem, but with the involvement of positive family role models he has worked on his problems.

Mrs Woods said that he was out of work for 18 months but has worked hard to build his confidence and get a job in a warehouse, which he has had for 12 months.

On July 10 the driver from Vale Avenue, Horwich, had been to see some friends in Atherton before going to see his step-brother in Wigan and, after drinking a pint of lager and four or five cans, he decided to drive home.

But it was on that journey that the incident happened.

The damage to the terraced house was so extensive that the whole of the downstairs exterior wall had collapsed.

On discovering the rogue car was registered to Owen, police went to his house where he was arrested then breath-tested.

He was charged with being nearly two times over the legal drink drive limit, driving without due care and attention, failing to report and accident and failing to stop after causing £18,000 of damage and causing personal injury to his passenger.

At the time of the incident Latvian-born Solvita Indriksone, who was asleep in the house with her four children, said: “I heard a loud noise and when I stood up I saw the car had broken the front of our house. The driver tried to get the car started but couldn’t - then smoke started to come in.

“I was shouting to my children to come down and get out the back of the house, because I thought the car could explode. My son was the most scared, because he was sleeping above where the crash happened. “You see this kind of thing on TV and I never thought it would happen to us. I don’t know what to think, I can’t believe it.”

In police interview he said he had not been driving the vehicle but later forensic tests showed that blood on the drivers’ side air bag from an injury he sustained in the crash belonged to him.

Civil proceedings are also active against Owen with regards to the £18,000 damage he caused.