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Benjamin Sparkes sentenced for crash in Chatham

A drink and drugged up driver who jumped a red light and smashed into an oncoming car has escaped a jail sentence.
 
Father-of-five Benjamin Sparkes was more than seven times the legal limit for drugs and almost twice the drink-drive limit at the time.
 
He later claimed he had felt dizzy and must have passed out behind the wheel.
 
A close-up of the overturned car. Picture Josh Wade

A close-up of the overturned car. Picture: Josh Wade

 
Maidstone Crown Court heard the 34-year-old fibre optic cable installer had been repeatedly sounding his horn and wolf-whistling at a hen party seconds before the smash in Chatham on June 3.
 
Sparkes’ driving was said to be erratic and aggressive, as well as “deliberate and precise” while on the wrong side of the road as he passed a line of vehicles waiting at traffic lights.
 
His Vauxhall Insignia crashed head-on into a Citroen Xsara at the junction of Luton Road and Castle Road, causing it to flip over and spin into railings.
 
The driver of the other car managed to escape with cuts and bruises. Sparkes, meanwhile, was pulled out of his car by pedestrians.
 
Prosecutor Eleanor Scott-Davies said Sparkes’ speech was slurred and he struggled when paramedics tried to place him on a stretcher.
 
He failed a roadside breath test and a blood test revealed he had 152 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80.
 
He also tested positive for cocaine, giving a reading of 436 milligrams. The legal limit is 50.
 
The overturned car. Picture Cherysh Nolan

The overturned car. Picture Cherysh Nolan

 
Sparkes said he had drunk two large glasses of wine at the Ship and Trades pub in Chatham and taken cocaine.
 
He said he had been feeling unwell at the time and he had since been diagnosed with scarring on his heart.
 
Sparkes, from West Kensington, west London, admitted dangerous driving, drink-driving and drug-driving.
 
He was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.
 
He will be under a tagged curfew for two months between 7pm and 5am.
 
He was banned from driving for two-and-a-half years.
 
Judge Jeremy Carey said Sparkes’ cocaine use was an aggravating feature, and that the impact of drink-driving was “blindingly obvious”.
 
But the judge said he had taken the guilty pleas and previous good character into account and the lengthy driving ban would be significant punishment because of his job.
 
Debris was left across the road and both cars were badly damaged in the collision.

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