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Drink-driver Stephen Birrell crashed into car containing woman and child at Sandringham

A 66-year-old who crashed into another car with a mother and daughter inside had been drinking before getting behind the wheel.

Stephen Birrell, of Donkey Pond Hill in Sandringham, appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday where he admitted driving above the specified alcohol limit.

Prosecutor Stephen Munton explained to magistrates that the incident took place on the Sandringham Estate on January 7.

Birrell appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday
Birrell appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday

Drivers in the area had reported seeing Birrell prior to the crash pulling out close to other cars, causing other drivers to break sharply. He was also seen swerving in the road.

A witness described seeing Birrell turning left into a junction at a “speed he could not stop” and colliding with another car – causing the airbags to go off on both vehicles.

Nearby witnesses got out to check on both the mother and daughter in the other car and Birrell – they noted that they could smell alcohol on him and saw an empty bottle of cider in the car.

Birrell was arrested by police and taken to Lynn’s Police Investigation Centre where he provided a reading of 119mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The legal limit to drive is 35mcg.

This high reading put Birrell at risk of going to prison.

In his police interview, Birrell admitted that he had drunk two bottles of cider before driving and had been to a detox centre two months prior to the offence to try and get sober.

A victim impact statement was read out in court provided by the woman involved in the crash.

The woman said she was left feeling “scared” after the accident and has since suffered with anxiety and broken sleep.

“What the man who hit us did was his decision,” the statement added.

In mitigation, George Sorrell said that Birrell “showed remorse” for what happened and has been seeking help for his alcohol addiction.

“He is totally remorseful and realises the seriousness of it now,” said Mr Sorrell.

Magistrates opted not to send Birrell to prison but instead gave him a 12-month community order.

He will complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay a victim surcharge of £114 and court costs of £105.

Birrell was also disqualified from driving for 28 months.

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