Drink-driver who crashed into Ottery church hit with 18-month ban

A drink-driver who crashed his car into an Ottery church after a night out with mates has been banned from getting behind the wheel for 18 months.

Haydn Banfield, 26, of The Signals, Feniton, admitted crashing into the Mill Street church while twice the legal drink-drive limit.

Magistrates sitting at Exeter today, Tuesday, November 26, banned Banfield from driving for 18 months and slapped him with a fine.

The court heard how the self-employed plumber had been out drinking with friends after playing football, got behind the wheel of his BMW and smashed it into the brick wall of St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church shortly after midnight on November 17 this year.

Magistrates were told how Banfield fled the scene after the crash but returned soon after and was breathalised by police and found to be twice the legal drink drive limit of 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, with a reading of 70mg.

As a young man with no previous convictions, Banfield’s actions that night had been a ‘gross error of judgement’, magistrates were told.

After the crash Banfield wrote a letter of apology to Father Frank Umedia at St Anthony’s, and went to the church to say sorry for the damage he caused.

Katharine Todd, defending, told the court: “He was totally honest with the police and said he couldn’t remember getting into the car. From this he’s taken away lessons.”

She added: “I know that Mr Banfield felt terrible about what happened.”

Banfield was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay a total of £440 in fines and costs.

Ottery

The car driven by Haydn Banfield crashed into the Mill Street church.
Photo: Mark Phillips.

The damage at St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church, at Ottery St Mary. Photos: EastDevonNews

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