Drink-drive Barnoldswick engineer crashed head-on after nodding off at wheel of his car

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A project engineer nodded off at the wheel and crashed head-on into another car, whilst more than three times the drink-drive limit, a court heard.

Ben Haldenby hurt two people in the 6pm crash on Langroyd Road in Colne. Both were rushed to the Royal Preston Hospital, one with a suspected broken hand and the other said to have suffered neck and back injuries.

Burnley magistrates were told Haldenby, who works in the aircraft engine manufacturing industry in his home town of Barnoldswick, had been told he had COPD, an incurable lung disease, not long before. He had taken solace in drink and had used it to try and block out the diagnosis.

A probation officer, who interviewed the 40-year-old, said: “His condition is going to deteriorate. There is nothing he can do about that.”

The court heard Haldenby was in the driver’s seat of his Mercedes when police arrived and was dazed and slurring his words. He blew 110 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath at the police station. The legal limit is 35.

Miss Parveen Akhtar (prosecuting) said: "In interview, he admitted he was driving. He said he had consumed a large amount of alcohol.” The defendant had no previous convictions.

Mr John Mewies (defending) told the hearing that Haldenby had hitherto been of "impeccable character.” He was well-qualified and highly-educated, with an honours degree in engineering and had a “tremendously responsible job.”

Haldenby was in charge of the entire manufacturing plant on his shift. Over the years, the stress had increased significantly and it had had adverse effects on his health. In July, he had been diagnosed with COPD, which, in certain circumstances, could significantly reduce life expectancy.

The solicitor added: "With that diagnosis in his head, he immediately embarked on a totally out-off-character course of conduct, which led him to drink to excess on his days off. To suggest you have before you a man who is full of remorse is perhaps an understatement.

"This incident has hit him hard. He has been back to the doctor, he is on medication and he has reduced the amount of alcohol he consumes.”

The probation officer said that Haldenby couldn’t wear an ankle tag because of the environment he worked in. It would be totally unacceptable to his employers.

The defendant, of Bolland Street, Barnoldswick, admitted driving with excess alcohol on September 3rd. He was fined £1,000 with a £100 victim surcharge and £85 costs and was banned for 25 months.