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Former serviceman admits drink-driving after tidying Swaffham war memorial

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An ex-military man who served in many conflicts and has since struggled to adapt to civilian life has been convicted of drink-driving.

Lynn magistrates yesterday heard David Crooke, 51, had been for a drink after voluntarily stopping off to tidy up the war memorial in Swaffham.

Police were later called to the A47 near the town where Crooke had ditched a Nissan Qashqai.

King's Lynn Magistrates' Court (53800793)
King's Lynn Magistrates' Court (53800793)

Following his arrest, he gave a reading of 78 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Prosecutor Jacqui Dankyi said: “In interview, he admitted to having drunk four pints of beer.

“There were cans of beer found in his vehicle and in the surrounding area as well.”

Swaffham's War Memorial
Swaffham's War Memorial

Crooke, of Fincham Road, Barton Bendish, pleaded guilty to drink-driving on December 13 last year when he appeared in court on Thursday.

The court was told that he had a previous excess alcohol conviction in 2011, which was outside the ten-year period for higher sentencing.

Solicitor Ruth Johnson, mitigating, said the ex-serviceman had been returning from Christmas shopping when he stopped at the war memorial to clear it of rubbish and leaves.

The court was told that he felt “guilt” at not having been to a remembrance service last year.

“He did what he could to clear the Cenotaph and make it presentable. He then went for a drink,” said Miss Johnson.

She told the hearing that he had joined the armed forces at 16 and had served in “99 per cent” of the conflict zones.

“He himself was involved in incredibly significant and traumatic incidents. He’s found it very difficult to adjust himself into civvy street and returned to Afghanistan as a civilian,” said Miss Johnson.

She added that he suffers from night-time terrors and was now receiving support for his wellbeing and alcohol problems.

Crooke said he was likely to lose his job on a military estate near Thetford as a result of the mandatory ban.

He was disqualified from driving for 18 months, which can be cut with the successful completion of a drink-driver rehabilitation course.

He was also fined £300 and ordered to pay a £34 victim surcharge.

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