Banned Nelson driver twice the speed limit ran and tried to punch an officer

The defendant has three previous convictions for excess alcohol-related offences in the last five years.
The defendant has three previous convictions for excess alcohol-related offences in the last five years.

A banned driver clocked up over twice the speed limit when police tried to stop him, legged it when told he would be breath-tested and then tried to punch an officer in the face, a court heard.

Garage worker Rimantas Vistartas was said by officers to have been doing up to 75mph on 30mph streets in Nelson at about 10.20pm. He turned out to be almost three times the drink-drive limit when tested at the roadside, but refused to give a breath or blood sample for analysis at the police station.

When he was being questioned, he said: "I'm sorry. This will cause me big problems. Please let me off."

Burnley magistrates were told Vistartas, who is from Lithuania, said he was at the wheel of a client's car, which he was driving to the garage for work to be done on it. He told police he had had half-a-litre of vodka earlier in the day.

The 49-year-old "regular churchgoer" has three previous convictions for excess alcohol-related offences in the last five years and had been banned for 26 months for drink-driving last December.

The defendant could have been facing jail, but escaped with a suspended sentence so he can get help centred on his "emotional resilience" and drink problem. He is currently off work sick due to a broken wrist.

Mrs Tracy Yates, prosecuting, told the court Vistartas made off down a back alley when spoken to, was chased, slipped, got back to his feet and tried to hit an officer. He was Tasered and when breath -tested at the roadside gave a reading of 103 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Mrs Yates said when Vistartas was interviewed, he claimed he had stopped as soon as he had seen the police blue lights, denied resisting arrest and said he had been doing between 30 and 35mph. He was aware he was banned until 2020.

The defendant said he ran off as he was scared about what the officer was reaching for and he had hurt his arm and didn't swing a punch. He admitted he had been drinking vodka between 1 and 2pm.

The prosecutor said: "He said his friend lent him the vehicle and told him it was insured. He then acknowledged because he had no driving licence he wasn't insured. When asked about the blood sample, he said he was asking for medical assistance as he was in a lot of pain. He has three relevant convictions since 2013."

Mr David Lawson, defending Vistartas said: "I concede his liberty is at risk." The solicitor said Vistartas admitted alcohol had been a problem for many years. It had been his crutch.

Mr Lawson said the defendant had not been working that day, had a family row and began drinking. He continued :" These problems have not been addressed and they are all alcohol- related. He presents as someone, who more importantly, wants to address these problems. He is genuinely remorseful and apologetic."

The defendant, of Victoria Street in Nelson, admitted failing to provide a specimen for analysis, driving whilst disqualified on Barkerhouse Road in Nelson, no insurance, and obstructing a police officer on June 21.

The Bench told him "We realise you have emotional and alcohol issues," but gave him 12 weeks in prison, suspended him for a year, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement. He was banned for three years and must pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.