Published: 06:00, 26 February 2020
| Updated: 07:08, 26 February 2020
A reporter crashed his car while driving with nearly two-and-a-half times the permitted level of alcohol in his blood, a court heard.
Police came across the accident scene in Longfield, near Dartford, just after midnight on the morning of July 22 last year.
Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan, of Ash Tree Court, Ash Tree Drive, West Kingsdown, had overturned his grey Ford Fiesta on Fawkham Road and it was on its roof with Duggan trapped inside.
Officers freed Duggan, who was taken to hospital to be checked over where it was found that he had 194 milligrams of alcohol in his blood, the permitted level is 80mg.
He also tested positive for benzoylecgonine (BZE) which is a break-down product of cocaine.
James Nichols, prosecuting, said Duggan had been unable to tell the police anything about the accident.
Duggan pleaded guilty to driving while above the drink/drive limit and driving with a proportion of controlled drug above the legal limit when he appeared before Sevenoaks Magistrates Court.
His defence barrister Sunil Rupasinha said: "The first thing the defendant instructed me to do was to apologise to the court.
"He knows this could have turned out so much worse for himself and for other innocent people and for that he is very sorry."
In mitigation Mr Rupasinha said that Duggan, who is employed by KM Media Group under a scheme funded by the BBC, had admitted his guilt immediately, even apologising to the officers attending the scene and he stressed it was a "genuine expression of remorse on his part."
He said on the night Duggan had walked from his parents' house to the pub, intending to leave his car at home, adding: "Unfortunately as the evening progressed and under the influence of alcohol, he made the foolish decision to go back and collect his car."
Mr Rupasinha said Duggan had no idea where he was going at the time of the accident.
He said Duggan had voluntarily attended a subsequent police interview without asking for a solicitor to be present because he intended to make full admissions about the whole incident.
Duggan admitted going to London on the Friday before and buying a gram of cocaine.
But Mr Rupasinha said as two days had elapsed before the crash, the court could infer that the cocaine had not impaired Duggan's driving, describing the tests as showing only "a trace" of the drug.
"Unfortunately as the evening progressed and under the influence of alcohol, he made the foolish decision to go back and collect his car..."
However, Duggan admitted that he did have both a drug and alcohol problem.
Mr Rupasinha said: "Speaking to his parents and to the defendant, it is clear that he has already referred himself to his GP and in turn has been referred for a programme of assessment and treatment.
"The matter is now in the hands of the NHS."
He added Duggan "had other issues" but again all his outstanding issues were now receiving appropriate treatment.
The court heard that Duggan's job as a political reporter required him to attend various locations across the area, often in the evening.
He said: "Probably it will be impossible for him to continue in that role subsequent to this court's findings."
He said Duggan's employers had already told him he would face a disciplinary hearing after the court case.
"It is most unlikely he will ever be troubling the criminal courts again..."
Duggan "had brought shame upon himself and got himself a criminal record," but, said Mr Rupasinha: "It is most unlikely he will ever be troubling the criminal courts again."
The chairman of the bench, Abigail Brennan, told Duggan he had been very stupid before fining him £357 for each offence and imposing a victim surcharge of £35 and court costs of £85, totalling £834.
He was also banned from driving for 22 months.
Duggan has 14 days to pay the fines.