Sunderland drink-driver had keys snatched by witnesses who saw him crash into car

A Sunderland drink-driver had his keys snatched by witnesses who saw him crash into a parked car, a court heard.

Niall Ruffell, 22, failed to stop immediately at the accident scene in Hewitt Avenue, Leechmere, on Sunday, April 18.

But Ruffell , of Elizabeth Street, Fulwell, was pursued and had the keys removed nearby before he could go any further.

Magistrates in South Tyneside heard he clipped a vehicle while dropping friends off in his white Hyundai.

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He is now starting a 16-month roads’ ban after pleading guilty to driving with excess alcohol and failing to stop after an accident.

Prosecutor Rehana Haque said: “Police responded to a report of a suspected drink-driver.

“Witnesses have reported that a white Hyundai has crashed into a parked vehicle.

“The victim has joined a neighbour in looking for the vehicle. They have removed the keys while the defendant is still in the vehicle.

“The aggravating feature is that he was carrying passengers at the time and there was a collision.”

Mrs Haque said part-time worker Ruffell gave positive breath test readings at the roadside and at a police station.

They showed a lowest reading of 59mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Chris Wilson, defending, said: “He made the erroneous decision to take his friends home.

“In trying to do the right thing, he did the wrong thing. It was minor damage.

“He panicked, he was worried about what his dad would say when he got home.

“To his credit he made full admissions in interview that he was the driver.”

For drink-driving, Ruffell was also fined £262, with £85 court costs and a £34 victim surcharge.

There was no separate penalty for failing to stop.

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Chronicle Live – Sunderland