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Virginio Ficetola convicted of drink driving after crashing car outside Marie's Tea Room in Gravesend

By Ed McConnell

A chef smashed into a car, bollard and flower planters before coming to a stop against a shop front.

Medway Magistrates' Court heard Virginio Ficetola had drunk a bottle of Peroni, two pints and a shot of brandy after a shift last month and preceded to get into his 17 reg black Mercedes and drive home despite knowing his licence had expired.

While heading down Gravesend High Street at 2am, the 33-year-old American veered into a parked car before careering into the front of Marie’s Tea Room.

Virginio Ficetola's car smashed into a bollard near Marie's Tea Rooms in Gravesend
Virginio Ficetola's car smashed into a bollard near Marie's Tea Rooms in Gravesend

He then ran off because, said prosecutor John Bishop, a crowd had gathered around the soil-strewn scene.

A car was seen picking him up and was later found unoccupied in Parrock Street.

The owner then appeared and a woman with him confirmed Ficetola had been taken to his home in Allens Mead, Denton.

Police attended and Ficetola was taken to hospital and then to the station where he gave a full account of the events.

A test revealed 87 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, more than double the legal limit of 35.

Mr Bishop said: “He recognised he should not have run off.

“When asked about the licence being expired he acknowledged it was following an earlier disqualification but said he did not know he had to reapply for one.”

The court heard Ficetola has previously lost his licence after totting up too many points.

Defending himself Ficetola admitted drink driving and driving without a licence.

He declined to add information but said he was a head chef who earned £40,000 after tax and that he did not need a vehicle to get to work.

Chairman of the bench, Christine Rose, said: “We have noted the circumstances and that you have not been remorseful.”

Ficetola was fined £770, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £77 and costs of £85.

He said he would be be able to pay the full amount immediately but was given two weeks to do so.

He was banned from driving for 22 months.

Speaking at the time of the incident, owner of Marie’s Tea Room Graham Broadbent said repairing everything could cost £600.

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