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Former estate agent James Cooper, of Chilham, hijacked milk float while drunk on night out in Manchester

ByLydia Chantler-Hicks

A former estate agent who drove off in a 10mph milk float while drunk has told a court he deeply regrets his behaviour.

James Cooper, 31, of Bagham Place in Chilham, hijacked the vehicle at 5.30am after drinking 10 pints of lager and gambling at a casino.

James Cooper has been banned from driving for 26 months. Picture: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd
James Cooper has been banned from driving for 26 months. Picture: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd

But as the battery-operated milk cart set off down the street at a snail’s pace, the milkman who had been delivering to nearby apartments began sprinting after him.

Because the vehicle was so slow, he was able catch up with the cart, clamber on board and place Cooper in a citizen’s arrest.

Police called to the scene found Cooper was three times the legal drink-driving limit, with 105mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

At Manchester Magistrates’ Court, he admitted drink-driving and taking a conveyance without authority.

The incident occurred on August 20, while Cooper was visiting the city.

James Cooper leaving Manchester Magistrates' Court. Picture: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd
James Cooper leaving Manchester Magistrates' Court. Picture: Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd

It is thought he went on a pub crawl then visited a casino, before finding himself stranded in the city centre with no transport back to his lodgings.

Martha Dowd, prosecuting, said:"At 5.30am he approached the milk cart. He started acting aggressively and the driver initially feared for his safety and tried to run from the defendant and secured himself behind a locked gate.

“As the defendant then got into the milk truck and drove it away, the milkman chased the van - and managed to catch him.

“He told police he was on antidepressants and said he couldn’t recall any of the incident and only remembered handcuffs going on him.’’

Cooper’s lawyer Declan Doherty said in mitigation: “He would agree with my description of this incident as absolute madness. He wholeheartedly accepts that and in police interview the defendant found it hard to come to terms with how he behaved. He has expressed regret and victim empathy.’’

Sentencing deputy district judge Vincent McDade told Cooper: “This is a serious offence. There needs to be some punitive element.

“Not only are you addicted to alcohol but you also have a gambling addiction. You consume a large amount of alcohol then visit casinos.

“I anticipate these visits occur later in the evening after the consumption of alcohol. Therefore I will impose a curfew.”

Cooper was banned from driving for 26 months and ordered to stay at home between 7pm and 7am under the terms of a curfew.

He is due to go into a rehab centre for 28 days to deal with his drinking.

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