Drink driver who crashed at 100mph avoids jail… because he was ‘SLEEP WALKING’


A drink driver who crashed his car at 100mph has avoided jail after telling a court he was – SLEEP WALKING.

Marine engineer David Hamnett, 47, downed whiskey and wine before getting behind the wheel of his Volvo S40.

He travelled 150 miles and reached speeds of up to 100mph before rear-ending another car and slamming into a motorway’s central partition.

Hamnett was cut free from the wreckage wearing just a T-shirt and jogging bottoms – and twice the drink drive limit.

But he told a court he had been ‘sleep driving’ and had slept-walked to his car and headed off on his usual weekly commute to Devon from his home in  Ormskirk, Lancs.

Hamnett said he must have been asleep during the entire drive before the crash which happened in Worcestershire in the early hours of July 9, 2011.

He told Shrewsbury Crown Court he put the clothes on to go to bed and woke up to find himself in the smash 150 miles away on the M5.

But Dr Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said it was “highly unlikely” he could have snoozed behind the wheel without crashing for two hours.

Judge Peter Barrie accepted he had a genuine sleeping disorder and that Hamnett may have got into his car while asleep.

But he said he had likely carried on with the “pointless” journey after waking up.

He was found guilty of dangerous driving and handed a twelve month community order, banned from driving for six months and ordered to take an advanced test.

Judge Barrie said: “This was a highly dangerous incident at high speed, weaving on a motorway and causing an accident in which you and the occupants of another car suffered significant injuries.

“It could have been much worse and an aggravating feature was that you were well over the drink drive limit.”

Hamnett claimed he travelled the entire 150 miles in a state of ‘parasomnia’ – and only came round after rear-ending another vehicle.

He produced an expert, Dr John O’Reilly, from the North West Regional Sleep Service, based at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool, who confirmed he had undergone treatment for sleep disorders.

But prosecution witness Dr Chris Idzikowski, Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said it was “highly unlikely” that anyone could have negotiated a 150-mile journey without waking up.

Phillip Beardwell, prosecuting, said: “Throughout this prosecution, David Hamnett has maintained a defence that his dangerous driving was as a result of him sleepwalking that night.

“He even produced a defence expert to support his claim that he had suffered from sleep disorder throughout his life.

“However, the prosecution were able to produce an expert witness who confirmed that it was highly unlikely that anyone could sleepwalk for a period of two-and-a-half hours and drive a car for over 150 miles.

“In fact, neither of the two eminent scientists could cite a recorded example of anyone sleepwalking for this length of time.

“Following a two day trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court, the jury did not accept the defendant’s versions of events and he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

“Mr Hamnett’s actions not only put his own life in danger but those of fellow motorists. He is very lucky that through his erratic driving there were no fatalities”.


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