Car crash theft was ‘a drunken prank’

A Dales woman who took and crashed a car while the owner was in a shop told a court it was a drunken prank.

Mother of three Eleanor Ward, who had no driving experience, took the wheel of her friend’s Nissan Micra at 12.40am.
She then lost control of it in Dale Road North, Darley Dale, and crashed into a stone wall, magistrates heard.

Police found the Micra on its side with the driver’s door sticking up in the air.

“A female was crawling across a field to the left on her hands and knees, away from the collision. She was heavily intoxicated and she said: ‘I’ve nicked it’,” said Lynn Manning, prosecuting.

Ward (36) had suffered injuries in the crash and was taken to hospital. She then gave a sample that revealed 180mgs of alcohol in 100mls of blood - more than double the 80mgs limit.

She later told police that her friend had left the keys in the ignition while popping into a local shop.

She said she got into the driver’s seat as a practical joke and intended to come back and pick her friend up, but she wasn’t confident in turning the car around.

Ward, of Yew Tree Close, Darley Dale, admitted aggravated vehicle-taking, drink-driving and driving without insurance and a licence.

She was given a 7pm-7am curfew for four weeks, a nine-month probation supervision order and a 20-month driving ban.

Felicity Clarke, for Ward, said: “She had been drinking at her home and she went with her friend to the shop and decided to take the vehicle as a practical joke.

Ms Clarke said Ward had “used alcohol to resolve problems in her life”. The incident had been a wake-up call for her as she had sought counselling for her drink problem.